The race for the Northwest League baseball title ended, for all intents and purposes, on Wednesday. Just don’t tell that to Logan Hold.
“We still have to take care of business,” the Shadow Ridge senior pitcher said. “We have to stay focused. It’s not over.”
Officially, no. But by virtue of their 7-3 victory over host Arbor View, the third-ranked Mustangs are within touching distance of their first league title in school history.
Shadow Ridge (26-2, 7-1 Northwest) has a one-game lead over the No. 4 Aggies (26-4, 6-2) with two league games remaining. And since the Mustangs swept the season series and own the head-to-head tiebreaker, it is essentially a two-game lead.
Shadow Ridge visits Spring Valley on Tuesday before closing the regular season May 2 against Palo Verde.
“Obviously, everybody wants to get the No. 1 seed and be the division (champion),” Arbor View coach Chris Martinez said. “The good thing is we’re in position to advance to the region tournament, and hopefully we’ll get another shot at them.”
Brady Hoskins hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put Shadow Ridge up 3-1, and Alec Pittsenbarger tacked on a two-run homer in the fifth as the Mustangs made the most of their seven hits against Arbor View starter Evan McMahan.
That was plenty of run support for Hold, who needed only 84 pitches to go the distance. The sidewinding right-hander scattered nine hits and threw a first-pitch strike to 22 of 29 batters.
Nate Stepna was 3-for-4 and scored twice for Arbor View, and teammate P.J. Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“We hit the ball well, but we didn’t defend and pitch like we’re capable of doing,” said Martinez, whose team committed three errors.
McMahan struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, but the Mustangs put their leadoff man on base in every inning except the second against the University of San Diego recruit.
Pittsenbarger (3-for-4, three runs) led off the game with a triple and scored when Hold poked a single down the right-field line. Hold added a run-scoring groundout in the third to put Shadow Ridge ahead 2-0.
“It’s a good spot to be in,” Mustangs coach Frank Tousa said. “We still have work to do next week. In this division, anything can happen.”