At the start of the season, the Hood River Valley pitching staff looked something like this:
Lucio Alaniz went a long way toward filling in one of those blanks with a strong pitching performance against Aloha Tuesday afternoon.
Alaniz threw 5 1/3 shutout innings as the Eagles rolled to an 8-1 win.
"Today everything was working well. My two-seam and four-seam fastball and my curveball was all working really well," Alaniz said. "My mentality was just 'throw strikes, strikes, strikes.'"
Alaniz displayed pinpoint accuracy in the win, scattering seven hits, striking out three and not walking a batter until the final hitter he faced.
"He just hit his spots," HRV coach Erich Harjo said. "He's got a good sequence of pitches we like to use with him and it's not a surprise to us what he can do. When he gives you that look before a game and you know he's ready, that's a good sign."
He also got plenty of help from his offense, defense and some inexperienced Aloha base runners.
The Eagles got going offensively right from the start, with David Gibson driving in a pair of runs with a double in the first inning.
They got two more in the third on an Eric McNerney single and Parker Sherrell sacrifice fly.
In the top of the fifth, Aloha had runners at first and third with no one out, but Alaniz was able to get out of the inning on three pitches with the ball being hit.
Nick Christopherson reached on a base hit and Richard Belog then got aboard on an error. Joseph Romero attempted to lay down a bunt, but missed it.
HRV catcher Kyle Beam then threw out Christopherson, who was caught between second and third during the bunt attempt.
On the next pitch, Belog attempted to steal second, only to be gunned down by Beam.
"I needed a break right there," Alaniz said. "That was great from Kyle."
On his third pitch to Romero, Alaniz dropped in a curve ball for his third strikeout of the game to end the Aloha inning.
"When he's locating he can be really effective," said HRV pitching coach Gabe Judah.
"He's not working that hard out there, which is nice and he's able to mix speeds up very well."
In the bottom of the inning, HRV broke the game open on Sherrell's second and third RBI of the day when he ripped a pitch into the left centerfield gap. Ryan Combelic followed that with a double of his own to score another run.
On his way to the win Alaniz also displayed some nifty glove work, throwing out the lead runner at third base on a bunt attempt in the second, and then snaring two quick comebackers in the third.
Aloha loaded the bases on Cody Walker in the seventh inning and got a run on an infield single, but could not sustain the rally.
"Aloha's a scrappy ball club and they can play the game pretty good," Harjo said. "I feel like we beat a good team today."
The Eagles were hosting Summit Friday, Skyview Saturday and Union Monday