Morenci faces Benson in state tourney first round Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Zachary Waltrip returns safely to first base during a pick-off attempt. Waltrip scored the game-ending run on a two-out Omar Ortega single in the bottom of the fifth inning. Morenci advanced to the state tourney first round against Benson in Goodyear on Friday, May 3. Pima left Morenci with an 11-1 season-ending play-in loss.

Wildcats knock off Roughriders 11-1 in play-in round

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci head baseball coach Joseph Morse sported an ear-to-ear smile as he left Francis Waldorf Stadium on April 30. The reason, he had just seen the Wildcats perform as he had been waiting for them to for most of the season. The occasion was a play-in game with Pima, a run-ruled abbreviated contest, halted with two outs after an 11-1 Morenci advantage.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior pitcher Desmon Sandoval struck out eight and yielded three hits while delivering 57 pitches to 18 batters during five innings. Morenci exited Francis Waldorf Stadium with a state tourney berth.

It was not one player, but each of the Wildcats doing their part, as he knew they could and expected of them.

They got some hits, batted runners in, and made defensive plays while turning in an errorless outing.

Senior starting pitcher Desmon Sandoval threw eight consecutive strikes before a ground out was recorded on his ninth pitch.

Pima was retired in order through the first four innings, recorded its initial hit in the fourth, and got picked off before the third batter up was struck out. The Roughriders doubled and singled on with one out in the fifth, scored on a balk, got called on a third strike for the second out, and reached first base on a beaned batter who was forced out with a fielder’s choice on the next batter.

Morenci batted .571 (16-28), fielded 1.000 (20-20), and left five runners on compared to .176 (3-17), .920 (23-25), and two stranded runners for Pima.

Senior Antonio Gallegos (4-4, RBI), senior Trey Trujillo (3-3, double, 2 RBIs), and junior Omar Ortega (1-1, RBI) batted 1.000 apiece, sophomore Lance Morey .667 (2-3), junior Zachary Waltrip (2-4, RBI), senior Christopher Roybal (1-2), and junior Brandon Blair (1-2) each .500, and both seniors Matthew Garcia (double, RBI) and Sandoval .333 (1-3).

On the mound, Sandoval issued 57 pitches in striking out eight, beaned one, and allowed three hits while facing 18 batters during five innings.

Three Roughriders batted .500 (1-2) apiece, seniors Curtis Larson and Tyson Hawkins along with junior Aldo Molinar.

Junior Jesus Hernandez and senior Alex Serna yielded 16 hits, struck out three, walked one and posted a sacrifice while facing a combined 30 batters during 4 2/3 innings.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior infielder Trey Trujillo was one of three Wildcats batting 1.000 against Pima. The Wildcats batted .571 (16-28) compared to .176 (3-17) by the Roughriders.

2019 State Tourney

The Top 16 teams will square off for the state tournament first round on the Goodyear Baseball Complex, 1933 South Ballpark Way, at 4 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 3.

Early games are No. 8 Saint Johns (14-4 seeding record, 4.7991 rating) versus No. 9 Flagstaff Northland Prep (11-4, 4.5524), No. 5 Camp Verde (14-3, 6.7943) vs. No. 12 Miami (13-4, 3.7227), No. 6 Whiteriver Alchesay (15-3, 6.5342) vs. No. 11 Parker (13-6, 3.7385), and No. 7 Benson (13-5, 6.2379) vs. No. 10 Morenci (10-7, 4.3635).

The later games are No. 1 Scottsdale Christian (15-1, 17.8078) versus No. 16 Tombstone (8-9, minus 0.0480), No. 4 Thatcher (13-3, 9.3818) vs. No. 13 Tucson Saint Augustine (14-4, 3.2807), No. 3 Bisbee (15-3, 9.8684) vs. No. 14 Scottsdale Prep (13-5, 3.0175), and No. 2 Phoenix Christian (16-2, 11.6755) vs. No. 15 Phoenix Country Day School (11-6, 0.3715).

Second round pairings or quarterfinals are the Scottsdale Christian – Tombstone winner versus Saint Johns – Northland Prep winner, Camp Verde – Miami winner vs. Thatcher – Saint Augustine winner, Bisbee – Scottsdale Prep winner vs. Alchesay – Parker winner, and Benson – Morenci winner vs. Phoenix Christian – Phoenix Country Day winner, all at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 4.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior outfielder Taylor Hewitt was beaned to reach first base and wound up scoring on a balk, accounting for the Roughriders’ lone run.

2019 Play-in Round

Six of eight pairings between the No. 9-24 rated teams were won by the higher seeds April 30. The two upsets were by No. 17 Phoenix Country Day School, 9-8 over No. 16 Eagar Round Valley (10-7, 1.1572); and by No. 18 Tombstone, 13-2 over No. 15 Tempe Prep (12-6, 1.1924).

Advancing higher seeds were No. 9 Northland Prep, 10-0 over No. 24 Wellton Antelope (10-7, minus 10.9977); No. 10 Morenci, 11-1 (5 inn.) over No. 23 Pima (3-13, minus 3.6840); No. 11 Parker, 11-1 over No. 22 Sedona Red Rock (9-10, minus 3.5136); No. 12 Miami, 12-2 (5 inn.) over No. 21 Goodyear Trivium Prep (9-9, minus 3.4679); No. 13 Saint Augustine, 4-0 over No. 20 San Manuel (12-6, minus 0.9826); and No. 14 Scottsdale Prep, 2-1 over No. 19 Willcox (6-9, minus 0.2139).

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