TAMPA — Alonso senior Ryan Valdes, a Florida State commit and Louisville Slugger preseason All-American, has plenty of skill, but he was lacking something: pitches to hit.
In hopes of alleviating that problem, Ravens coach Landy Faedo switched his spot in the batting order for Friday’s Class 8A, District 7 game against Wharton.
“We had Ryan hitting third in the lineup, and they kept pitching around him,” Faedo said. “He’s one of our better hitters so we went ahead and put him up in the leadoff spot to, hopefully, get some pitches to hit.”
With the bases loaded in the fifth, Valdes saw what he was looking for, as he laced a two-run triple into rightfield that gave the Ravens a 3-2 lead. Alonso would add one more on a Juan Bracamonte sacrifice fly to centerfield before the inning was over and go on to defeat the Wildcats 4-2.
“To get a win like this, we’re back in it, we’re confident,” said Valdes, who pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to earn the save in his first pitching appearance of the year. “We weren’t down, but we weren’t where we wanted to be.”
Wharton (4-1, 1-1) opened the scoring in the top of the fourth. Shortstop Tuck Neuhaus drew a two-out walk, and starting pitcher Colin Woody drove him in with a two-run home run over the leftfield fence. That, though, was the last hit the Wildcats would get.
Junior Ryan Shives came on in relief of Nick Alonso for the Ravens (2-2, 1-1) before Valdes took over in the seventh.
“I always harp on Coach, ‘Coach, let me get out there, let me throw the ball around,’ ” Valdes said. “And he said, ‘Valdes, your game, go out there.’ ”