ARVADA — Ralston Valley’s first-year baseball coach Brad Madden liked what he saw from his new club March 17 at Nate Jurney Field.
The Mustangs pounded out 18 runs on 17 hits to cruise to an 18-5 victory over Mullen for the first victory of the season for Ralston Valley (1-1 record).
“We swung the bats well today,” said Madden, who is with his third different Jeffco team during his impressive coaching career.
Madden coached Golden to a Class 4A state baseball title in 2003 and Green Mountain to back-to-back 4A championships in 2014 and 2015. The three-time state championship coach, who also won a state title as a player for Arvada West in 1994, has also brought in an impressive assistant coaches.
Longtime coach Terry Hensley and former Evergreen coach Steve Jones is on Madden’s staff. Jones guided Evergreen all the way to the 4A state title game last season.
“He (Madden) has been great,” Ralston Valley senior Ian Klava said. “We all love him and trust him. It was a really good thing for this program right now. He is going to go far with these players.”
Klava was impressive in his first start on the mound. The senior righty gave up just three runs on three hits. His only mistake was a hanging curveball in the top of the fourth inning that Mullen junior Brennan Nolte hit over the fence for a 3-run home run to get Mullen (0-2) on the scoreboard.
Ralston Valley’s offense gave Klava plenty of run support. The Mustangs batted around in the first, third and fourth innings. Junior Elliot Stern had the big blow in the 6-run first inning with a line-drive home run.
“I just got into the batter’s box and was ready,” Stern said of his home run. “Coach Madden told me to settle down and take a deep breath.”
Stern also singled from the No. 7 hole before giving way to a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“That’s a big hit right there,” Madden said of Stern’s 3-run home run in the first inning with two outs. “The kid is getting his first varsity experience this year. It was a lined shot that really got the bench going too.”
Junior AJ Jergensen hit a towering 3-run triple to highlight a 7-run bottom of the third inning for Ralston Valley. Senior Niklavs Levensteins delivered a 3-run home run in the 5-run bottom of the fourth inning for the Mustangs.
“It gave me a lot of confidence throwing with a lead,” Klava said of Ralston Valley’s offensive production. “I do my job and they do their job at the dish.”
Senior Sam Lennarson did his job from the lead-off position reaching base on all four plate appearances and scoring three times. Trey Adams, Jergensen, Parker Dorrance, Otto Jones, Stern and Matt Phillips all had a multi-hit game for Ralston Valley.
Mullen junior Michael Stanford hit a pitch-hit 2-run home run off Ralston Valley relief pitcher Joey Steiskal in the top of the fifth inning, but it wasn’t enough. Steiskal got a groundout and strikeout following the home run to end the game due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Ralston Valley plays four teams from Oregon during its spring break trip to Arizona next week.
“It’s been great,” Madden said of his experience so far at Ralston Valley. “The kids have been receptive. They want to be coached. They have done everything we’ve asked of them. Now it’s just a feeling out phase. I learn about them and they learn me. We’ll get that all figured out before league starts.”
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