Bulldogs leave Wildcat country with 5-1 opening win

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior right-hander Patrick Ornelas delivers a pitch during the opener with Morenci on Feb. 20. Ornelas struck out seven, walked two, beaned one, and yielded three hits while facing 24 batters during six innings. Safford prevailed 5-1.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The temperature was slightly warmer than the day before as the baseball season opener for Morenci and Safford commenced Feb. 20. Safford left Francis Waldorf Stadium with a 5-1 season-opening win over host Morenci.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Maddux Martinez delivers a pitch en route to striking out nine, walking two, and allowing a hit while facing 15 batters during four innings in relief.

The Robert Abalos-coached Bulldogs scored in the first, second, third, and fifth innings, while limiting Morenci to a lone run in the sixth.

Walked leadoff senior batter Patrick Ornelas was tripled in by junior Keegan McKinney with one out in the first, a two-out walked Ornelas crossed the plate following a bases loaded walk to junior Mason Duros in the second, a singled junior Justin Torrio and doubled sophomore Noah Bevens were driven in on an Ornelas two-out grounder error at short in the third, and a tripled Higgins was singled in by Torrios with two outs in the fifth.

Morenci junior Brandon Blair tripled on to start the sixth and was driven in on a Maddux Martinez sacrifice fly. The Wildcats went three up and three down to end the game.

The home team also went three up and three down in the third and fourth, while the Bulldogs did that in the fourth and sixth.

Morenci batted .136 (3-22), fielded .893 (25-28), left five runners on base, and committed three errors compared to .200 (5-25), 1.000 (29-29), eight stranded runners, and zero errors for Safford.

Junior Brandon Blair batted .500 (2-4, triple); senior Antonio Gallegos and junior Omar Ortega both .333 (1-3), and sophomore Maddux Martinez 0-2 (sac, RBI).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Bandon Blair slides under the throw at home to catcher Keegan McKinney, scoring Morenci’s lone run. Blair tripled on and was driven in on a Maddux Martinez sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

On the mound, senior Desmon Sandoval (0-1) struck out four, walked six, and yielded four hits while facing 15 batters during three innings. Martinez struck out nine, walked two, and allowed a hit while facing 15 batters during four innings of relief.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior infielder Christopher Roybal tags a Safford base runner attempting to advance to third.

For Safford, Torrio batted .667 (2-3, RBI), Ornelas .500 (1-2, 2 RBI), McKinney (RBI, triple) and Bevens (double) both .333 (1-3), and Duros 0-3 (RBI).

Ornelas struck out seven, walked two, beaned one, and scattered three hits while facing 24 batters during six innings. McKinney struck out the three batters faced during one inning of relief.

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