By: Derryl Trujillo (Inland Sports Senior Writer)
Special to the Valley News

Murrieta Mesa (15-2, 5-0 SWL): 3
Vista Murrieta (10-5, 3-2 SWL): 2

WP: Raineri, Jhayden: 5 IP, 4 Hits,1 Run, 4 K, 6 BB
LP: Pirko, Lucas: 4 IP, 5 Hits, 2 Runs, 6 K, 1 BB

MURRIETA – There’s no doubt that Vista Murrieta is the standard bearer program in Southwestern League baseball. So far in 2021 Murrieta Mesa has flown the flag as its only ranked program (#2 by CIF-SS D4 voters as of Monday, April 19) and they entered Friday with a one-game lead. Standing in their way of a two-game lead was multiple time league champion, Vista Murrieta.

Jhayden Raineri picks up his 4th win of the season and 3rd win in the Southwestern League Friday, April 23, against Vista Murrieta. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Starting pitcher, Jhayden Raineri, held Vista Murrieta scoreless until the fifth inning when the Broncos got an RBI single from Jerrad Gonzalez (scoring Kade Johnstone who was walked) to make it 3-1 Rams. Prior to that point the senior, bound for Salem University in West Virginia, held his opponents to three hits, three K’s, and a handful of walks. He was relieved after that inning by Caden Byers, who gave up a lone RBI hit (two out double by Johnstone) but then retired his final four batters to pick up the save and preserve the victory.

Mesa’s win over Vista Murrieta is the first since 2016, when the Rams not only won their only Southwestern League title to date, but also won the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship that year over Harvard Westlake.

Murrieta Mesa first baseman, Caden Byers, looks to tag out Vista Murrieta’s Josh Kerr (22) on a pick-off attempt Friday, April 23. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Raineri said afterwards “Today was an all-around team win and we’re looking at this season as unfinished business. As seniors, we talked during the break about making our final year memorable. We’re doing that so far, but there’s a lot of baseball between us and a Southwestern League championship.”

Murrieta Mesa got a lone run in their half of the 2nd on Aidan Salcedo’s single which scored Nate May, who reached on an error by Matt Caldera after misreading a deep flyball in right field. In the 4th it was again Salcedo coming through with an RBI, this time of the sacrifice fly variety, scoring Raineri who led off the inning with an infield single. May also singled but was left stranded as Bronco starter Lucas Pirko escaped more damage.

Murrieta Mesa’s Aidan Salcedo heads toward second base in the Rams 3-2 victory over Vista Murrieta Friday, April 23. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Salcedo added “Our seniors have done such a great job of leading this program through some unique circumstances. During the shutdown they were on everyone to make sure we got our work in, whether that was in a weight room, throwing, or hitting and we’re reaping those benefits now.”

The Ram’s tacked on an insurance run in the 5th with a Byers RBI single. Head coach Mike Wolford, in his first full year leading the program, said after the win “We’re playing some good baseball, but if a couple of balls fall differently it’s a different story. That’s a
good team we just beat, and, in this league, anyone can be beat at any time. These guys are making me look really good right now with their approaches at the plate and excellent pitching.”

Murrieta Mesa’s Carter Garate is caught in a run down during Southwestern League action at Vista Murrieta Friday April 23. Valley News/Andrez Imaging.

Derryl Trujillo can be reached by email at

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