ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Jake Barrett: The Mesa Desert Ridge junior was 4-for-8 with three home runs and five RBIs as Desert Ridge went 2-1 for the week. Barrett tossed a complete-game victory over Gilbert Highland (6-3 win) and homered twice in that game. In Tuesday’s game, Barrett followed up by tossing a two-hitter, another complete game while fanning 10 in a 6-1 win over San Luis.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
A team expected to be solid in the pitching department this season is struggling, mostly due to the health issues of its staff.
Gilbert Highland was set to rely on senior Devyn Rivera, but arm concerns have not allowed Rivera to throw at all yet. The Hawks No. 2, left-hander James Pazos, got off to a slow start after recovering from a staph infection suffered in wrestling season. Highland is 2-7 heading into today’s region opener with Chandler.
Although Gilbert Mesquite coach Jeff Holland says his team’s 6-2 start is the product of smoke and mirrors, another explanation is quality pitching. Chris Jensen, Rocky High and Casey Rana have combined for all six wins and a 1.19 earned run average in 47 innings of work.
HALL OF FAME INVITES
The Arizona Baseball Coaches Association has announced four new inductees to its Hall of Fame later this spring. Former Mesa Dobson coach Scott Morgan and former Apache Junction and Chandler High coach Jeff Mason will be inducted prior to the association’s all-star games in June. Also being inducted will be former Phoenix Washington coach Nick Candrea and former Camp Verde coach Mike Mier.
Mesa Red Mountain, which opened the season with losses to Mesa Mountain View, Phoenix Desert Vista and Chandler Hamilton, has rebounded with seven straight triumphs. The Mountain Lions have toppled Glendale Ironwood, Tucson Salpointe, Yuma Cibola twice, Desert Vista, Sierra Vista Buena and earlier this week top-ranked Scottdale Desert Mountain. Another team with a good record to date is Mesa Westwood. The Warriors were 2-2 in their tournament to begin the season. In their other four games, all that count in the power rankings, they are 4-0. Westwood has topped Surprise Valley Vista, Yuma, Phoenix Camelback and Casa Grande. Westwood steps up its competition next week getting a look at Chandler, Chandler Basha, Gilbert, Mesquite and Desert Vista in the Mesquite-Skyline Tournament.
TELEVISED PREP BASEBALL
Each Mesa district high school gets to play three games this spring at Hohokam Park once the Cubs vacate in late March. An added twist is that Cox Ch. 7 has agreed to televise at least one of those games — an April 9 meeting between Mesa Red Mountain and Mesa Mountain View that will begin at 6:30 p.m. Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen is awaiting word from Cox on another East Valley matchup that might find its way to the airwaves.
Today’s a heavy day for regular season games and the 5A Fiesta Region opens region play as part of it. Gilbert visits Chandler Hamilton and Chandler is at Gilbert Highland. A game to keep an eye on matches Scottsdale Horizon at Peoria Sunrise Mountain, a battle of two of the top teams in 5A-II.
More tournaments are just around the corner as well, three local ones to be exact. Gilbert Mesquite and Mesa Skyline combine to host the Mesquite Skyline Tournament Monday through Thursday. Local powers Scottsdale Horizon, Scottsdale Chaparral, Hamilton and Phoenix Brophy are entered in the annual Cleats Invitational hosted by Horizon High. That tournament runs Monday through Thursday as well. Highland and Mesa are hosting a tourney, too, that runs Monday through Friday with Mesa Dobson and Mesa Desert Ridge also entered in that one.