|Mingus celebrates after Austin Zwart’s grand slam. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Junior Easton Bright follows through on a pitch. |
Following back-to-back home runs by junior Austin Zwart, it looked as if the Marauders baseball team was going to make a comeback and overtake the Bradshaw Mountain Bears, but ultimately fell short.
"If we had had better defense, we probably would have won that game," said junior pitcher Easton Bright. "We just had way too many errors."
The Bears went up early and never let their lead go. After four innings, Bradshaw Mountain held a 8-1 lead and it seemed as though they would put a few more runs on the board and the game would be over.
"I thought we could have done better defensively and swung at better pitches, but we had a couple innings where we started to make the comeback, its what we needed, but I guess we didn't get it done today," Austin said.
Austin began the game on the mound for Mingus, but after three innings and two outs and an admittedly less than desirable performance, Austin threw a 7.64 ERA and allowed eight runs (four earned) on eight hits, he was replaced by Bright with one out left in the third.
Bright had a better outing than his teammate, allowing six runs against eight hits, only two earned runs, and a 4.20 ERA. Both Austin and Easton were aided by a defense, that when able to eliminate the errors, made spectacular plays and did its best to hold Bradshaw. Leading the charge was senior Tyler Herndon. Tyler made plays at both first base and left field, tallying eight put outs of his own, more than a third of the Marauders 21 total put outs.
"I felt pretty good about it [my pitching]," Easton said. "I could have kept a few more pitches down, but otherwise I like what I did."
Tyler stated the offensive spark for Mingus in the fifth by nailing a triple and driving in two runs. Following Tyler in the batters box was Austin. Going into the game, the pitcher had already tallied five home runs, and added two more by the end of the game. First was a two-run homer in the fifth to bring the Marauders within striking distance of the Bears, narrowing the score to 9-5.
"That's what he can do, he's capable of that. When he gets locked in and swings at good pitches, he's always a threat," Young said.
In the sixth inning, Bradshaw again notched one run before Mingus' turn to bat. Austin stepped up to the plate and, knowing that his coach and team had faith in his ability, cracked another one that went through left field, and while the opposing team was chasing the ball, they realized it was gone as it. This was huge for Mingus because bases were loaded when Austin was up to bat, giving him a grand slam and making the stands and team believe that his team was going to pull off the comeback and upset.
"He has great faith that I'm the correct cleanup hitter, because I guess that's where I hit the best. I'm just trying to keep his faith in me, and the faith of the team in me," Austin said. "The first one, I didn't really feel it off the bat so I didn't know where it went, but the second one was probably the best contact I've made all year, so yeah, I knew that one was gone."
What doomed the Marauders in the beginning of the game, errors reared its ugly head once more in the final inning, allowing Bradshaw to put up four more runs. The final at bat for Mingus Union was a bit anti-climatic. First up for the Marauders was senior Francisco Pacheco, who managed to get on base. He would be the only player form the home team to make it to the bases. The next three up were quickly put out, with senior catcher Robert Valentine being the final out of the game.
"Defensively, when we make those mistakes, we're not a very good team," Young said. "Our whole secrets our defense. When we play well we do well, when we don't we struggle. It's just been a struggle this year."
With his two home runs, Austin finished the game with a .500 batting average through four at bats, and tallied six RBI's. Sophomore Tom McCarty led the offense with a .667 average, going 2-for-3 from the batters box. Senior Andrew Garcia was the only other Marauder to hit above a .500, earning himself a .600 batting average, going 3-for-5 with three runs of his own.
The following day the baseball team traveled up the mountain to face off against Flagstaff High School. The Marauders tallied 11 runs in the second inning.
"We were up 11-0 in the second inning and eeked it out 12-10," Young said. "Similar [to today's game], we made some errors and let them back in the game, we had one real good inning where we got 11 runs, then we kind of coasted after that."
The Eagles would make sure they did just enough to not lose because of the 10-run rule, and in the fourth inning, hit three runs in, bringing the score to 12-6. One more scoreless inning would be the last for Flagstaff before bringing in three runs and one run in the sixth and seventh, respectively, to cap off a final charge being shut down by Francisco.
The senior pitched five innings and finished with a 5.60 ERA on eight hits, four earned runs, one walk and one strike. Andrew and junior Marshall Shill each tallied five put outs and one assist, Tyler had four. Marshall and Andrew had .750 and .500 batting averages, respectively. Senior Andres Zorrilla added a .500 batting average on 1-of-2 hitting.