Duncan comeback falls short in baseball opener

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Senior Manny Rocha heads to second base as Valley Union senior first baseman Anthony Zamora watches the pitch. Duncan fell in its opener Feb. 23, 12-11.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – An 8-run fifth-inning gift proved to be not enough as the Duncan Wildkats fell 12-11 to Elfrida Valley Union in the season home opener Feb. 23.

“We had five returning players and didn’t get down after making errors,” Duncan head coach Eric Bejarano surmised. “I was pleased with what we did.”

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Senior right-hander Carlos Garcia delivers a strike during the opener with Valley Union Feb. 23. Garcia struck out seven, beaned two, and yielded eight hits while facing 38 batters during six innings.

Trailing 11-2 in the bottom of the fifth, 13 Wildkats stepped to the plate, and the Blue Devils changed pitchers twice before the inning ended.

Duncan was patient enough to wait for a good pitch as eight had a full count before exiting the batters’ box, drawing seven walks, reaching first base on a throwing error with one out, and receiving another two walks before the third out was recorded. Three runs were driven in by walks, three scored on passed balls, and two on the throwing error.

The visitors singled on in the sixth and a throwing error on the ensuing batter scored run number 12. A stolen base attempt was thwarted for the first out, a strikeout got the second out, a fielding error got another runner on and a single deep into the outfield prompted him to try for third base, but was thrown out by the centerfielder for the third out.

Another Valley Union pitching change came after three consecutive walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth. A groundout accounted for Duncan’s run number 11 before a third strike was watched into the catcher’s glove to end the game.

The Blue Devils sent 10 to the plate and led 6-0 following their initial at-bat, added one in the second, and two in both the fourth and fifth while the Wildkats got two in the fourth prior to their big inning.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Sophomore Chris Smith watches a ball go by against Valley Union. Eight of 13 Wildkats had a full count before exiting the batter’s box during the fifth inning. Duncan scored eight runs in that frame, three driven in on walks, three on passed balls, and two on a throwing error.

Duncan batted .043 (1-23), left 10 runners on, and committed 14 errors compared to .222 (8-36), eight stranded runners, and seven errors by Valley Union.

Sophomore Jared Garcia posted the lone hit as he batted .333 (1-3). Senior Carlos Garcia went the distance on the mound, striking out seven, beaning two and yielding eight hits while facing 38 batters in six innings.

For Valley Union, senior Derek Hahn batted .800 (4-5, RBI), sophomore Erubiel Sierra .500 (2-4, RBI), senior George Adcock .333 (1-3, RBI, double), and junior Noah Spencer .250 (1-4).

Four Blue Devils took to the mound, issuing 14 walks, striking out nine, beaning one, and yielding a hit while facing 39 Wildkats. Senior starter Jesse Smith struck out seven, walked two, beaned one, and allowed two hits while facing 22 batters in 4 2/3 innings; Adcock walked four and struck out one while facing six batters during 2/3 innings; Daniel Romero walked the three batters he faced; and senior Anthony Zamora walked five and struck out one while facing eight batters during 2/3 innings.

Others on the Wildkats’ baseball roster include seniors Manny Rocha and Kade Stacy; sophomores Cesar Contreras, Cliff Hansen, and Chris Smith; and freshmen Jerrett French, Jason McGrath, Spencer Smith, and Brent Zelenik.

Duncan is at San Carlos Tuesday, Feb. 27, and at Kearny Ray Friday, March 5, before hosting Saint David Monday, March 5.