On a day that saw the first CIF Southern Section preseason baseball polls of the season come out, Murrieta Mesa didn’t bat an eye after not making it into the top 10 of the Division Four rankings. Instead, the Rams, took to the road Tuesday, March 30, to take on M.L. King, who are currently ranked No. 9 in the Division One polls.
At game time, in the opener of the inaugural Inland Empire High School Baseball Carousel, both starting lineups reeked of next level talent. King has six verbally committed Division One athletes, which is enough to make any visiting team nervous, but that didn’t seem to bother Murrieta Mesa, who has quite a few next level commits of their own.
The Rams got on the board first when senior utility player, Jhayden Raineri (Salem University), launched a bases clearing double to the right center wall, scoring three runs for the Rams, who racked up 15 hits throughout the game. Raineri would add his fourth RBI of the game in the third inning, scoring senior Caden Byers (Vanguard University) with a single up the middle. Byers got on base with a lead-off double.
Anther one of Murrieta Mesa’s senior threats, utility player Colby Moran (Northwest Nazarene), who is also the Rams QB1 on Friday nights, pounded out four hits on the day, keeping the Wolves on their toes all over the field. The Rams roster boasts 17 seniors in all, which is reminiscent of their 2016 year, when they won the CIF Southern Section Division One title.
Senior right-hander, Jack Kelley, started on the bump for Murrieta Mesa, picking up his second win of the season with his complete game punch out. Kelley allowed three hits and struck out ten batters over the course of 7 innings. King’s Matt Hudson took the loss, surrendering six runs on nine hits over two innings, striking out one and walking zero.
Moran, Raineri and Byers were followed in suit by juniors Carter Garate (Cal State Fullerton) and Derek Hurtado with multiple hits against the Wolves pitching staff. Moran went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate for the Rams.
Murrieta Mesa turns back around to pick things up with games against Hillcrest, Norco, Paloma Valley and Riverside Poly this week. The Rams will play 10 games over the course of a 12-day span, which is the ultimate spring break test for any team.
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