By Jim Predmore
Petco Park pulled out all the stops as they welcomed high school athletes from throughout Southern California for a chance to have a “Big League Experience”; not only for the players, but for the parents, fans and the entire community.
The ballpark was in immaculate condition for the young players. The Padres staff made every effort to make this a special experience. They were vacuuming the field, repacking the mound, painting new baselines and batters box, all in an effort to make the players feel like there were in the Big Leagues.
The Holtville Vikings got their chance to play on Saturday May 8th at 1:00pm as they faced off against the Palo Verde Yellow Jackets. The Vikings were the visiting team and got to bat first. Zach Soto was the first Viking to come to the plate and was walked, then stole second. Joe Gonzales had an infield sacrifice grounder that moved Soto to third. Luis Espinoza came up and hit a ball through left center for a single, which gave Soto a score.. Troy Dollente walked then Joe Gonzales hit a single to left scoring Espinoza, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead. Troy Dollente took the mound for the Vikings and faced off against Palo Verde’s Dillon Hefner, who hit a ground ball to short and was able to beat the throw to first. With back to back singles by Jordan Powers and Devonte White, Palo Verde tied up the game 2-2.
Palo Verde added another run in the second and the Vikings tied it up in the third, for a 3-3 ball game. The score stayed that way due to some fine pitching by both teams, taking the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Vikings got the first two batters out. Stefan Guillin hit a ground ball to second and was safe on a throwing error. The next batter walked, giving Palo Verde a man on first and second. Then Palo Verde hit a line drive to short left, just out of the reach of David Fregoso, allowing Palo Verde to score and get the win.
Even though the Viking’s came up short, the experience of playing a game in a Big League Ball Park will be a lasting memory for all that were able to participate in such an event.