Wildcats erupt for 9-run inning in opener; head to three-day Florence tourney

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Michael Ortiz makes contact during a scrimmage with Safford on Feb. 16. Eight days later, the senior infielder batted .600 (3-5) with a home run and four RBIs during the season opener in Tombstone. Morenci batted .412 (14-34) as a team compared to .192 (5-26) by Tombstone.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

TOMBSTONE – A 9-run fourth-inning eruption erased a 1-1 three innings deadlock in the ‘Town too tough to die,’ en route to a 13-4 season-opening Morenci win over Tombstone on Feb. 25.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Mark Berube, one of nine seniors on Morenci’s 15-member baseball team, takes a swing in the batter’s box.

Thirteen Wildcats went to the plate as 9 runs were driven in before three outs were recorded for a 10-1 advantage. Junior Trey Trujillo singled in a walked junior Antonio Gallegos, sophomore Zach Waltrip singled in both singled junior Christopher Roybal and Trujillo, junior Omar Ortega drove in both Waltrip and himself with a home run, and senior Michael Ortiz singled in both singled senior Justice Boling and beaned senior Brayden McCarthy, Gallegos singled in a singled Derek Waltrip, and a Trujillo centerfield sacrifice fly allowed Ortiz to score with two outs.

Tombstone scored first, crossing the plate once in the bottom of the second on an error after reaching base on an error, once in the fourth on a sacrifice fly after a triple, and twice in the sixth on an error after singling on and on a balk after reaching base on an error.

The Wildcats added three runs in the sixth, Ortiz homered in a tripled Derek Waltrip and a doubled Gallegos crossed the plate on an error with no outs to lead 13-2. Ortiz singled in a beaned Derek Waltrip in the third inning to tie the score at 1-1.

Morenci batted .412 (14-34), fielded .881, left 10 runners on base, and committed four errors compared to .192 (5-26), .950 (19-20), three stranded runners, and one error for Tombstone.

Senior Derek Waltrip batted .750 (3-4, 2 RBIs, triple); Gallegos (double) and junior Christopher Roybal both .667 (2-3); Ortiz .600 (3-5, 4 RBIs, home run); senior Justice Boling, junior Tre Trujillo (2 RBIs, sac), and Zach Waltrip (2 RBIs) each .333 (1-3); and Ortega .250 (1-4, 2 RBIs, home run).

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: First-year Morenci baseball player Antonio Gallegos watches a pitch go by during a scrimmage with Safford. The junior catcher batted .667 (2-3) with a double and accounted for 11 put outs with one error against Tombstone.

Junior right-hander Desmond Sandoval struck out 11, walked one, beaned one, yielded five hits, and delivered 92 pitches while facing 28 batters.

For Tombstone, both freshmen Ezekiel Esparza (double) and Jacob Oliver batted .667 (2-3), sophomore Dominic Jordan .333 (1-3, RBI, triple), and sophomore Gustavo Morales 0-2 (RBI, sac).

Three Yellow Jackets combined for 118 pitches to yield 13 hits, beaned two, walked one, and struck out four while facing 38 Wildcats. Junior starter Anthony Duran struck out two, walked one, beaned one, and scattered two hits while facing 12 batters during three innings; Esparza gave up seven hits, walked one, and beaned one while facing 13 batters during one inning; and junior Oscar Allamilla-Quintero allowed six hits and struck out one while facing 13 batters during three innings.

This week, the Wildcats head to Florence for an 18-team tourney beginning Thursday, March 1. Morenci faces Snowflake at 1:30 p.m. and Apache Junction at 5 p.m. in Pool C on the San Tan Foothills High School campus. The Wildcats meet the San Tan Valley Combs at 1:30 p.m., Friday, March 2.

Bracket play begins Saturday, March 3, with the top two teams plus the top two number three teams in the three pools competing in the Gold Bracket, numbers 9-14 in the Silver Bracket, and numbers 15-18 in the Consolation Bracket.

Pool A has Bisbee, Coolidge, Goodyear Estrella Foothills, Miami, Safford, and San Manuel; Pool B has Eagar Round Valley, Eloy Santa Cruz Valley Union, Florence, Superior, Thatcher, and Winkelman Hayden; and the other two Pool C teams are Globe and San Tan Foothills.