Morenci Lions Club’s 42nd tourney continues Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Game one of Day One had Saint David defeating Duncan. Four teams, Saint David, Miami, Safford, and Thatcher are vying for the tourney title. The championship bracket pairings are Thatcher versus Miami at 3:45 p.m. and Safford vs. Saint David at 6 p.m. Friday, April 8. Games in the consolation bracket begin at 9 a.m., all in Francis Waldorf Stadium.

Miami, Safford, Saint David, Thatcher still vying for the title

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Day two of the 42nd Morenci Lions Club Baseball Tourney has five games in Francis Waldorf Stadium on Friday, April 8. It will be 1A South Region Duncan (4-7 overall) versus 3A South Central Region Florence (9-8) at 9 a.m., 2A East Region Morenci (8-7) vs. 2A North Region Saint Johns (4-7) at 11:15 a.m., and 2A East Region Pima (7-4) vs. the Duncan – Florence winner at 1:30 p.m. in the consolation bracket.

The championship bracket has 3A South Central Region Thatcher (13-3) vs. 2A South Region Miami (17-2) at 3:45 p.m. and 3A South Region Safford (6-8) vs. 1A South Region Saint David (15-1) at 6 p.m.

In day one pairings, Saint David defeated Duncan 17-4 in five innings; Thatcher defeated Florence 7-3 in six innings; Miami defeated Pima 11-1 in five innings; Safford defeated Saint Johns 14-1 in four innings, and Saint David defeated Morenci 16-6 in five innings on April 7.

Prior to the start of the meet, Miami was averaging a 15-run margin (18-3, 335-55) per game, Saint David a 7-run margin (10-3, 151-39) per game, Thatcher a 5-run margin (10-5, 149-69) per game, both Morenci (8-6, 111-87) and Pima (8-6, 87-56) a 2-run margin, Safford a 1-run margin (7-6, 85-77) per game, Florence tied (7-7, 118-118), and a -1 run deficit by both Duncan (7-8, 72-77) and Saint Johns (6-7, 62-74).

The third-place game is at 2:45 p.m. and the championship game will be on Saturday, April 9, starting at 5 p.m.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: A maintenance crew prepared the field for the next game following the conclusion of each time-limited contest.

2022 Tourney Team Backgrounds

Three teams participated in the initial meet during the 1979 season.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Lion David Martinez sprays down the bleachers to assure a clean surface for the next day’s spectators.

Of the original three teams, only Morenci has been in all of the previous 41 meets. The Wildcats have finished first in 13 of 20 times they qualified for the final (1980, ’81, ’82, ’85, ’89, ’92, ’94, ’97, ’99, 2003, ’07, ’14, ’16) and have been the only team to win three in a row. Morenci is also an 8-time runner-up (1979, ’86, ’95, 2000, ’09, ’10, ’18, ’19).

Thatcher was unable to attend the first tourney but has not missed one since (1980-2019, 2022). The Eagles have been champions thrice (1988, ’96, 2011) and runners-up 10 times (1981, ’82, ’89, ’98, 2003, ’07, ’12, ’13, ’15, ’16).

Pima’s Roughriders are in their 35th meet (1986-2019, 2022) and were the 2017 tourney champions; the Duncan Wildkats in their 32nd (1980, 1983-91, 1995-99, 2009-16, 2018-19); the Saint Johns Redskins in their 20th (1993-94, 2002-05, 2007-19, 2022) and winning the 26th meet title (2004); the Miami Vandals in 15th  meet (1980-87, 2014-19, 2022), ending as runners-up twice (1980, 2016); the Safford Bulldogs in their fifth (1982, 2017-19, 2022) trip to Morenci; and both the Florence Gophers and the Saint David Tigers (2022) in their initial venture to Wildcat Country.

Tourney History

Through the previous 41 tourneys, 27 state finalists have prepared for the post-season in Morenci, with 16 finishing as state champions. Long after the grills in the newly christened “Roy’s Cook Shack” went silent and the 2019 tourney ended, three of the 12 tourney participants ended as state finalists. Heber Mogollon and Lake Washington earned state titles, and Morenci finished as state runners-up.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Lion Bryan Boling checks the day two pairings on the displayed bracket.

Over the past 19 seasons (2003-21), the nine 2022 Morenci Lions Tourney participants have gone a combined 100-96 at Arizona state championship tourneys. Saint Johns (12-16) qualified for 18 tourneys; Morenci (14-12) for 13; Saint David (15-10), Thatcher (12-12), and Miami (9-12) for 12; Duncan (13-9) for 11; Safford (11-9) and Pima (10-9) for 10; and Florence (5-8) for eight.

In that same span, seven of the nine teams were state finalists, with Saint David (2003, ’12, ’21), Duncan (2004, ’05), Saint Johns (2007), and Pima (2016) finishing as champions and Thatcher (2005), Duncan (2006), Saint David (2011), Safford (2017), and Morenci (2019) as runners-up.

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