Reis, Bear River win pivotal PVL battle at Placer; Colfax smokes Center

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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For the second time this season, Andrew Reis and Bear River beat Placer.

Only this time, the game had a lot more on the line — and the Hillmen didn’t go down without a fight. 

Reis gave up five hits and four runs — three earned — in six innings and the Bruins held off a late Placer rally to win a pivotal Pioneer Valley League game Friday afternoon at James Field, 5-4.

“It’s huge,” said new Bear River coach Moe Barrios of the outcome. “I told the kids every game from here on out needs to be played like a playoff game.”

Bear River took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after Jake Sypnicki scored on a passed ball and Michael Raigoza drove home Reis, who scored two runs on the day.

Placer starting pitcher Austin LeBleu, who gave up four runs in three innings of work, brought Placer within 2-1 in the bottom of the first with an RBI that scored Chip Mitchell (1 for 3, two runs).

But the Bruins, who scored twice in the third and once in the fifth, would never relinquish their lead.

Offensively, Bear River was lead by Sypnicki (2 for 4 with a double), Raigoza (2 for 3) and David Chorjel (1 for 2, RBI, double, two runs).

Todd Valliere had a 2-for-4 day for Placer, including a RBI double in the fifth. Following the two-bagger, Mitchell scored on a wild pitch to trim the Bruins’ lead to 5-4.

Placer had the go-ahead run on base in the sixth, but stranded two runners to end the inning. Travis Anderson relieved Reis in the seventh and shut the door on Placer.

Josh Hattrup and Tyler Gums each had a hit for the Hillmen.

Logan Markstein, who pitched four innings in relief of LeBleu, kept Placer within striking range by giving up just one run in the fifth.

While neither the Bruins (9-13, 4-6) or Hillmen (8-14, 4-6) can catch league-leading Colfax (14-4, 10-0) with five games to go, they’re both battling for the third and final playoff spot allotted to the PVL. Second-place Lincoln was 8-1 in PVL play heading into Friday, playing its next two games against league cellar-dweller Foothill (5-14, 1-8 PVL).

With Friday’s triumph, the Bruins clinched a series victory over Placer, as Bear River topped the Hillmen 8-1 on March 21 behind a one-hit gem from Reis.

“The hits are starting to come a little better for us,” said Placer coach John Hilton, when asked what went differently for his team between the first and second outings vs. Reis.

The two squads, which are tied in the standings with Bear River holding the tiebreaker, will go at it again Wednesday at James Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“I don’t expect them to come out with anything less than a great effort against us Wednesday,” said Barrios, who is 2-0 at the varsity level and is really familiar with his squad as he coached almost the entire roster at the junior varsity level. “That’s a young scrappy team over there (in Placer). I expect them to fight tooth and nail and to be really aggressive against us Wednesday.

“They’ve got nothing to lose. They’ve got a bunch of young kids that play the game really hard and aggressive. They’re going to be really tough to reckon with the next few years. A couple of their young mistakes came out today and we were able to take advantage.”

Hilton said the Hillmen now need to make sure they don’t end the season tied in the standings with Bear River.

“We’re up for the challenge,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re still in the hunt for this.”

Both Barrios and Hilton weren’t sure who their starting pitchers would be for the upcoming ballgame.

Hilton said he may go with Gums.

Barrio said he doesn’t know if Reis will be ready to go. The coach added it might not be a good idea to throw the same pitcher at Placer three times in one season.

Said Barrios: “I don’t know if I can catch lightning in a bottle three times in a row.”

Colfax 10, Center 0 — Ace Devon Loomis pitched five shutout innings and the Falcons’ bats remained hot as Colfax (14-4, 10-0) smoked Center (6-13, 2-8) in a five-inning Pioneer Valley League game.

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