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Story and photos by Liz Alper
Cover photo: Valhalla junior Max Hageman drove in the game-winning walkoff single in the eighth inning.
April 17, 2018 (El Cajon) - Valhalla baseball, usually one of the best high school baseball teams in San Diego County, is off to a rare bad start to 2018. The Norsemen were 6-11 overall coming into today’s game, but were so far, so good in league with a 2-1 record. The Cougars of Steele Canyon are quite the opposite. They’re undefeated in league (3-0) and a solid .500 (8-8) overall. Both teams met on Norsemen turf today. In football, this would be the battle for the Jamacha Trophy. We’ll call it that in baseball too for fun. Senior Trevor Back started for the Cougars against senior Tanner Smith for Valhalla.
The Cougars got started right away in the first with junior Billy Tellous’ smash of a double into right to get Steele Canyon on the board first. Sophomore Danny Yanez grounded into left and Tellous beat out a great, close throw to home to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead after one.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Norsemen started playing like Vikings. With junior Ethan Dunnam on first, junior Max Hageman smacked a double into center to score Dunnam. That made it 2-1. To tie the game, junior Cameron Zamudio lined it to left, Hageman scored and it was a brand new ballgame.
Both teams threatened, but nothing came and we were on to extras. Valhalla kept inching closer and closer to victory until Hageman made it happen. In the eighth, he lined it to right. Dunnam scored from second and that was it. The Norsemen walked it off with a 3-2 win and increase their record to 7-11, but can be comfortable with a .500 (2-2) in the Grossmont League. Steele Canyon gets their first loss in league play, now 3-2. They fall to 8-9 on the season
The Norsemen head to Santee to face West Hills on Thursday. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m. The Cougars go back to Spring Valley, but not to their home base; they’ll face the Matadors of Mount Miguel on Thursday. First pitch is at 4:00 p.m.