Drew Taylor beats the throw to Murrieta Valley’s Jacob Loving (9) in their opening season matchup at Linfield Christian school Saturday, Feb. 11. Valley News/Linfield Christian Athletics photo

TEMECULA – The Murrieta Valley Nighthawks opened the 2023 prep baseball season Saturday, Feb. 11 with an extra innings win over host Linfield Christian. The game also marked the return of former Murrieta Mesa head coach Bryn Wade, who took the Rams to the Division 1 CIF Southern Section finals in 2016, beating Harvard-Westlake for the school’s first and only CIF title for baseball. Wade is now the head coach for Murrieta Valley and is looking to rebuild a program that has not been to the postseason since 2018.

The Nighthawks, out of the Southwestern League, struck first when they put three runs on the board in the first two innings against the Lions, but sophomore Noah Getz was able to keep Murrieta Valley at bay through the sixth inning. Linfield, out of the Ambassador League, would tie the game up in the fifth inning at 3-3, and then again in the sixth at 4-4, after the Nighthawks scored the go-ahead run in the top half. It would be a pitchers’ duel in extra innings, but a four-run top of the ninth would be too much for Linfield to overcome. Final score: 8-4.

Top performers on offense for Murrieta Valley were Jacob Loving, who went 3 for 4 with 2 stolen bases, and Jesiah Generoso, who was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and a stolen base as well. Loving also picked up the win on the mound with his three innings of scoreless work, striking out four batters, and only giving up two hits.

Linfield’s Elijah Butler drives the ball for an RBI against Murrieta Valley Saturday, Feb. 11. Valley News/Linfield Christian Athletics photo

Linfield Christian had two players go 2 for 4 at the plate, Matthew Rezkalah and Luke Waddell, but run production came from Elijah Butler, Jake Valencia and Gavin Malcomson, who all had one RBI apiece. Getz would get handed the loss after his 6.2 innings of work. He gave up three earned runs, four hits, had one walk and struck out five batters.

Murrieta Valley, at 2-1 on the season thus far, play against J.W. North and San Clemente, this week, with a game TBD on Saturday, which is tournament play. Linfield Christian is also 2-1 on the season and play Bloomington and West Valley this week, and have a game TBD on Saturday, which is also tournament play.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.