By Steve Ramirez
COVINA – It’s nothing new to see the Northview High School baseball team playing a game in the summer. But the opponent Tuesday was noticeably different. Tyler Grijalva had three hits and two RBIs as the host Vikings completed a three-game exhibition series against the Australia Expos with a 7-4 victory. But the experience outweighed the wins for Northview, which also scored victories on Saturday and Sunday.
“When we set this up, we thought it be would fun,” said Northview coach Darren Murphy, who received an Australian flag from the Expos after the game Tuesday. “We’ve never had an experience like this, playing Australians. But one of the things I like to do is give the kids a new experience. I gave myself one too. It’s pretty emotional. Our kids got really close to these kids in three days. It was a cool experience.”
The Expos, which feature players ranging from age 16 to 19 to form a varsity-level team, are in the middle of a California tour. They played a game in San Francisco before their three-game set against Northview, and they’re scheduled to begin a five-game series in Redlands this weekend.
“We don’t have high school baseball in Australia,” said catcher Jake Webster, who went 2-for-2 and scored a run in Tuesday’s series finale.
“This is all we have, and the experience is unbelievable. It’s a great ground (field), great people. And it’s a great experience coming here to play baseball against such a high-quality Northview team.”
The Vikings, who won CIF- Southern Section Division IV in 2008 and advanced to the second round this past season, showed some of that ability early on.
Northview, also getting two hits from Eddie Pedroza and a solid pitching effort from Christian Raygoza, led 1-0 after two innings on an RBI single by Daniel Ramos before pushing the advantage to 4-0 in the third on RBIs by Grijalva and Pedroza and two Australia errors.
Australia, getting an RBI single from Webster and an RBI groundout from Jarrod Cavanagh, made it 5-2 in the sixth before Grijalva countered with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning for a 7-2 advantage.
“It was a great experience,” Grijalva said. “It doesn’t matter where they come from, they still play the game the same way as us. They play hard.
“It was great. The first day, one of their players came up to us and was real nice. The next thing you know we’re talking to him for an hour or so. It was a great experience.”
Australia – whose junior squad went 2-1 against Northview’s junior varsity/freshman team – didn’t go quietly, though. The Expos loaded the bases with two outs before making it 7-4 on a two-run single by Jake Thomson.
“That’s what we are all about,” Webster said. “We’re happy we could come back and give them a little bit of a run at the end.”
Northview’s Johnny Soreian then struck out Colin Tilini to end it.
“This is going to be a (summer) tradition now,” Murphy said. “They were very competitive. They know how to play, and are a good group of guys.
“We’ve played other summer teams, but this was something completely different, and it was fun.
“Who knows? Now there’s talk about us maybe going to Australia one day.”
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