Wildcats outlast Redskins on Saturday, welcome Cowboys on Monday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Derek Saenz (3) drills a two-out eighth inning single to drive in run number six against Saint Johns on March 11. The Morenci senior batted .500 (2-4) for the day. Morenci hosts three consecutive region opponents, Willcox on Monday, March 12, Tombstone on Thursday, March 16, and Benson on Saturday, March 18.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Christopher Aguallo-coached Morenci Wildcats welcome Willcox for an East Region contest on Monday, March 13. It will be the 2023 Francis Waldorf Stadium opener for the Wildcats.

Other region games this week include Bisbee at Pima and Tucson Santa Rita at Tombstone on Tuesday, March 14; Tombstone at Morenci on March 16; Willcox at Pima on Friday, March 17; and Benson at Morenci on Saturday, March 18.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Patrick Chavez Jr. (8) spoils the Redskins’ pick-off attempt, sliding back to first base ahead of the throw. The Morenci senior scored in the top of the fifth, crossing the plate as the third run for the Wildcats. Awaiting to make the tag is senior Jay Wahl as assistant coach Mick Ruiz watches the play.

Willcox Cowboys

The Adam Fuentes-coached Cowboys have won four of 10 games played to date.

Willcox posted two wins in five outings last week, falling 3-5 to Thatcher (March 8), and going 2-2 in abbreviated games during the 3-day Bisbee-held tourney. The Cowboys fell 0-8 to Saint David (March 9), defeated Elfrida Valley Union 11-1 (March 10), fell 3-8 to Texas El Paso (March 10), and defeated Tucson San Miguel 16-4 (March 11).

The Cochise County team also went a combined 2-3 during the previous two weeks, going 1-3 in abbreviated games during the 2-day Phoenix Bourgade Catholic Cougar Classic and edging Phoenix Madison Highland Prep 2-1 (Feb. 27).

Willcox fell 4-13 to Glendale Desert Highland Prep (Feb. 24), defeated Payson 5-1 (Feb. 24), and fell 1-13 to Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (Feb. 25) and 0-15 to Lakeside Blue Ridge (Feb. 25).

Morenci Wildcats (2-4-1)

The Wildcats have two wins in seven games played thus far, both recorded during last week. Morenci defeated Santa Rita 19-3 during five innings in Tucson (March 6) and needed an extra inning to slip past Saint Johns 6-4 (March 11).

Morenci opened the season with a ruled infraction-scored run 7-8 loss in Miami (Feb. 27), and followed it with three losses and a tie in abbreviated games played during the 3-day Florence-held tourney. The Wildcats fell 2-10 to Winkelman Hayden (March 2), tied 1-1 with Globe (March 3), and fell 3-4 to Show Low (March 3) and 4-8 to Florence (March 4).

Morenci – 6, Saint Johns – 4 (8 inn.)

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci fans brave the weather to watch their Wildcats play on the road. A sizable following watched the come-from-behind efforts and extra inning win in Saint Johns.

Clearly, it was not the way the coaching staff drew it up. The focus had been on fundamentals and the game plan was not for the result to come down to an extra inning. Morenci overcame five errors and left the White Mountains with a 2-run extra inning win over the Redskins.

The teams were deadlocked at 4-4 following the regulation seven innings. Morenci sent six batters to the plate during the extra inning. Junior Anthony Ballesteros singled on, junior courtesy runner Michael Casillas stole second, and a pair of outs ensued, a strike out and an unassisted ground out.

With two outs and a runner on, a fielding error allowed sophomore Christopher Carbajal to reach first and score Casillas, Carbajal advanced to second on a passed ball, and senior Derek Saenz singled him in. Although Saenz stole both second and third, a strikeout left him stranded there.

The Redskins stepped to the plate and went three up and three down. Senior closer Daylen Johnson struck out the first, caused the second to fly out, and struck out the third. Game over, visitors win.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Daylen Johnson (8) brings in the heat against the Redskins. The Morenci senior fanned half the batters faced during three innings as a reliever.

Two runs were scored by each team through the first five innings. Saint Johns crossed the plate initially with a walked lead-off batter being doubled in with one out and singled in with another runner on in the first (0-2); Morenci on a singled Johnson crossing the plate on an error and senior Gabriel Hernandez stealing home with two outs in the fourth (2-2); Saint Johns on three errors as both reached first on separate errors and a one-out fielding error allowed them to cross the plate in the fourth (2-4); and Morenci with singled senior Patrick Chavez Jr. being singled in by freshman Christopher Lopez with none out and senior Emilio Roybal singling Lopez in with one out in the fifth.

For the game, Morenci batted .333 (11-33), stranded six runners, and committed five errors while Saint Johns batted .200 (7-35), left 11 runners on, and made 11 errors.

Carbajal batted .750 (3-4, RBI), Johnson (2-4) and Saenz (2-4, RBI) both .500, Lopez .333 (1-3), and Chavez, Ballesteros, and Roybal (RBI) .250 (1-4) apiece.

On the mound, reliever Johnson struck out five, walked one, and yielded a lone hit while facing 10 batters during three innings. Sophomore starter Peyton Basteen struck out three, walked one, beaned one, and allowed six hits while facing 28 batters during five innings.

Prior to the initial pitch, Saint Johns (1-3, 1-3, 1-0) had a 2-17 loss at Joseph City on Feb. 28, a 15-0 North Region 5-inning win over Sanders Valley on March 1, a 0-26 loss in Show Low on March 8. 

Morenci – 19Santa Rita – 3 (5 inn.)

The Wildcats touched home 10 times during their initial plate appearance, added one in the second, and four in both the third and fourth while the host Eagles scored a lone run in the third, fourth, and fifth to end the region contest early.

Morenci batted .436 (17-39), sent 16 different batters up with 13 recording at least one of 17 hits and 11 driving in at least one of 17 runs batted in, struck out five times, drew six walks, was beaned once, and left 12 on. The Wildcats posted a .947 (18-19) fielding average, turned a double play and committed one error.

Carbajal (2-2, 2 RBIs), Lopez (1-1), and sophomore Shane Seballos each batted 1.000; junior Javier Hernandez (double, RBI), Ballesteros (2 RBIs), junior Austyn Nelson (RBI); Saenz, freshman Jaymz Guzzo (3 RBIs), Gabriel Hernandez (RBI), and senior Jaylen Kitcheyan (RBI) .500 apiece; Johnson .333 (1-3, 2 RBIs); Chavez ,250 (1-4, 2 RBIs); and Roybal .167 (1-6, double, RBI); and Casillas 0-2 (RBI).

On the mound, three Wildcats combined to strike out nine, walk four, bean two, and allow three hits while facing 23 batters during five innings.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Christopher Carbajal (8) fallows the ball after making contact. The Morenci sophomore drove in the go-ahead run, junior courtesy runner Michael Casillas, in the eighth inning against Saint Johns. He batted .750 (3-4) on the afternoon.

East Region Standings

The region standings at week’s start have Benson (3-4-1 overall, 3-1 seeding, 3-0 region) first, Morenci (2-4-1, 2-1, 1-0) second, Bisbee (7-5, 3-1, 1-1) third, Pima (3-3, 1-1, 1-1) fourth, Willcox (4-6, 1-1, 0-0) fifth, Tombstone (2-5, 1-2, 0-2) sixth, and Tucson Santa Rira (0-3, 0-3, 0-2) seventh.

This week (March 13-18), Morenci hosts Willcox on March 13; Pima hosts Bisbee and Tombstone hosts Santa Rita on March 14; Morenci hosts Tombstone on March 16; Pima hosts Willcox on March 17; and Morenci hosts Benson on March 18.

Thus far, Benson (3-0) has wins of 7-5 in eight innings over Tombstone (March 3), 12-2 in five innings over Bisbee (March 7), and 11-4 over Pima (March 10); Morenci (1-0) a 19-3 five innings win over Santa Rita (March 6); Bisbee (1-1) a 19-0 five innings win over Santa Rita (March 8); and Pima (1-1) a 7-3 win over Bisbee (March 7).