Wildcats welcome Elks to Morenci on Wednesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Needed tools of the game are temporarily left on the field following the final out. Players met for a post-game coaches’ talk, prepared the infield for the next day, and then exited their “field of dreams.” Benson left Francis Waldorf Stadium with a 3-0 region win on March 18. Morenci hosts Round Valley on Wednesday, March 22.

Bobcats sit atop early East Region standings

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Christopher Aguallo-coached Morenci Wildcats welcome the North Region Eagar Round Valley Elks on Wednesday, March 22. It is the final home game during the school’s Spring Break.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Austyn Nelson (10) returns safely ahead of the throw to Benson first baseman Gabriel Montijo (40). The Morenci junior singled on in the second with one out but was left at third via a double play. Ten Morenci runners were left on during the region’s home game with Benson.

In region games this week (March 20-25), Morenci visits Bisbee on Monday, March 20; Tombstone visits Willcox on Tuesday, March 21; Bisbee visits Willcox and Tombstone visits Santa Rita on Thursday, March 23; and Benson visits Willcox on Saturday, March 25.

Non-region games include Benson at Saint David on March 20; Pima at Thatcher and Round Valley at Morenci on March 22; Benson at Empire on March 23, Valley Union at Tombstone on March 24; and Pima at Round Valley on March 25.

East Region Standings

The region standings through games played on March 18 have Benson (5-7-1 overall, 4-1 seeding, 4-0 region) first, Morenci (4-5-1, 4-2, 3-1) second, Bisbee (8-5, 4-1, 2-1) third, Pima (4-4, 2-2, 2-2) fourth, Tombstone (3-6, 2-3, 1-3) fifth, Willcox (4-8, 1-3, 0-2) sixth, and Tucson Santa Rira (0-4, 0-4, 0-3) seventh.

Benson (4-0) has wins of 7-5 in eight innings over Tombstone (March 3), 12-2 in five innings over Bisbee (March 7), 11-4 over Pima (March 10), and 3-0 over Morenci (March 18); Morenci (3-1) has wins of 19-3 in five innings over Santa Rita (March 6), 15-8 over Willcox (March 13), and 7-6 over Tombstone (March 16); Bisbee (2-1) has wins of 19-0 in five innings over Santa Rita (March 8) and 6-3 over Pima (March 14); and Pima (1-2) wins of 7-3 over Tombstone (March 7) and 11-7 over Willcox (March 17); and Tombstone (1-3) 22-0 four innings win over Santa Rita (March 14).

Bisbee Pumas (8-5)

The Todd Hammett-coached Pumas have won four of five seeding games and four of eight tourney games.

Bisbee defeated the San Miguel Catholic Vipers 32-0 during five innings in Tucson (Feb. 28), the Desert Christian Eagles 6-2 in Tucson (March 3), the Santa Rita Eagles 19-0 during five innings (March 8), and the Pima Roughriders 6-3 (March 14). The loss was 212 to the Bobcats in Benson (March 7).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Benson seniors Ryan Dunivan (4) and Angel Rigney (3) neutralized good hitting with their pitching skills. Dunivan struck out five walked one and yielded six hits while facing 23 batters during five innings. Rigney struck out three, beaned one, and allowed no hits while facing 10 batters during two innings.

The Pumas opened the season in abbreviated games played during the 2-day Phoenix Bourgade Catholic tourney, defeating the Arizona Lutheran Coyotes 6-3 win during six innings (Feb. 24), and followed it with three losses. The losses were 3-4 to the Lakeside Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets (Feb. 24), 5-6 to the Payson Longhorns (Feb. 25), and 5-7 to the Phoenix Christian Cougars (Feb. 25).

A second tourney attended in Bisbee resulted in a 3-1 mark. The Pumas defeated the Elfrida Valley Union Blue Devils 19-0 during two innings (March 9), the Saint David Tigers 12-3 during four innings (March 10), and San Miguel 9-2 during four innings (March 11). The loss was 1-5 during five innings to the Texas El Paso Tigers (March 11).

Through 13 games, the Pumas are batting .354 (108-282) with 112 RBIs, 16 doubles, four triples, and three home runs. They have also struck out 41 times, received 59 walks, and were beaned 10 times.

The 9-member pitching corps has a combined 3.14 earned runs allowed average, struck out 83, walked 45, yielded 40 hits, and beaned three during 58 innings.

Round Valley Elks (2-5)

The Troy Merrill-coached Elks played eight games through March 10, four seeding, and four tourney games. A seeding game in Coconino County at Flagstaff Northland Prep preceded the Greenlee County trip.

Round Valley posted two wins in three seeding games, 19-2 in five innings over the Whiteriver Alchesay Falcons (Feb. 27) and 12-1 in five innings over the Holbrook Roadrunners (March 8). The loss was 1-9 to the Miami Vandals (March 10).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Christopher Lopez (4) watches a fifth-inning full-count pitch arrive slightly out of the strike zone. The Morenci freshman reached first on a no-outs walk but was stranded at third as the next three Wildcats each recorded an out.

The Apache County team also went 0-4 during the 3-day Florence tourney, falling 3-4 in five innings to the Kearny Ray Bearcats (March 2), 2-3 in five innings to the Thatcher Eagles (March 3), 5-7 to Queen Creek San Tan Foothills Sabercats (March 3), and 4-13 in five innings to the Coolidge Bears (March 4)

Morenci Wildcats (4-5-1)

The Christopher Aguallo-coached Wildcats won four straight games before a defeat, after going winless during their first five games.

Morenci defeated the Santa Rita Eagles 19-3 during five innings in Tucson (March 6), the Redskins 6-4 in Saint Johns (March 11), the Willcox Cowboys 15-8 (March 13), and the Tombstone Yellow Jackets 7-6 (March 16) before falling 0-3 to the Benson Bobcats (March 18).

The Wildcats opened the season with a 7-8 loss to the Vandals 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 losses were 2-10 to the Winkelman Hayden Lobos (March 2), 3-4 to the Show Low Cougars (March 3), and 4-8 to the Florence Gophers (March 4). The tie was 1-1 with the Globe Tigers (March 3).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Christopher Carbajal looks the ball into his glove in order to make a play. The Morenci sophomore has a 10-game .850 (17-20) fielding average and has helped turn in one of seven double plays.

Through 10 games, the Wildcats are batting .291 (75-258) with 49 RBIs, nine doubles, three triples, and a home run. They have also struck out 72 times, received 28 walks, and were beaned four times.

Defensively, Morenci has a combined .898 (229-255) fielding average and turned in seven double plays

The 10-member pitching corps has a combined 3.56 earned runs allowed average, struck out 61, walked 55, yielded 50 hits, and beaned 19 while facing 297 batters during 57 innings.

Benson – 3, Morenci – 0

Three runs total were scored in the contest of unbeaten region teams, all by the visiting Bobcats. Two crossed the plate in the fifth inning as seven batters stepped to the plate and one in the seventh with six batters. Four or fewer batters went up for the Bobcats during each of the previous four innings, going three up and three down in both the second and third.

The scoreless deadlock was broken as two beaned batters reached first, and a one-out fielding error loaded the bases. Benson freshman lead-off batter Kellen Deskins singled in junior Aiden Bowling and junior Gabriel Montijo scored on a bases-loaded ground out by freshman Dawson Judd. A fly-out recorded the third out.

Benson’s third run was scored on a passed ball by alert freshman Matthew Evans.

Morenci sent six batters up in the sixth inning and loaded the bases with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the scoring threat. The Wildcats sent four, five, five, three, four, six, and four up during the game.

Coach Aguallo told the Wildcats they played well following the game; it just didn’t end with a “W” for the home team. They faced situations they hadn’t yet and used the experience for next time.

For the game, Morenci batted.172 (5-29), left 10 runners on and committed five errors compared to .217 (5-23), seven stranded runners, and five errors.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci baseball fans braved the weather to support the Wildcats against Benson in Francis Waldorf Stadium.

Senior Emilio Roybal batted .500 (2-4); junior Austyn Nelson .333 (1-3); and both seniors Daylen Johnson and Gabriel Hernandez .250 (1-4).

Junior Aaron Mason went the distance on the mound, striking out five, walking one, beaning six, and yielding five hits while facing 31 batters.

For Benson, Evans batted 1.000 (1-1), Deskins (2-4, RBI), and Bowling (1-2) both .500 and Judd .333 (1-3, RBI).

On the mound, senior Ryan Dunivan struck out five, walked one, and yielded six hits while facing 23 batters during five innings. Reliever Rigney struck out three, beaned one, and allowed no hits while facing 10 batters during two innings.