March 18, 2005
Small ball and strong pitching were the keys Thursday as Red Mountain handed Desert Mountain its first loss of the 2005 season.
Red Mountain scored three times in the third inning, capitalizing on Desert Mountain miscues to beat the Wolves, 4-2, and win the championship of the Central-East Valley-Fiesta Baseball Tournament at Corona del Sol High School.
Red Mountain’s Ryan Nunley and Eric Lefever combined on a three-hitter to shut down Desert Mountain. The Wolves (12-1) had defeated four of five opponents by at least 10 runs in the tournament prior to the title game.
"Our pitching has really been good this week," Red Mountain coach Henry Faccio said. "We’ve held some goodhitting clubs down. We’re finding ways to win instead of finding ways to give games away."
Nunley, a junior righthander who blanked Highland in the opener of the tournament last Saturday, gave up a run in the first. The 1-0 deficit lasted until the bottom of the third when Desert Mountain endured an ugly inning.
Daniel Sickinger led off the rally with a walk for the Mountain Lions (7-6). Leadoff hitter Paul Connolly then hit a sharp bouncer to second that looked to be a sure double-play ball. Desert Mountain second baseman Bobby Lasker couldn’t find the handle to make a play at either base and Red Mountain was in business.
Nick Orr came up next and bunted down the third-base line. Pitcher Mike Dufek tried in vain to throw Orr out at first, but his throw was late and high. It rolled to the rightfield corner and both runners scored. Orr ended up at third. He scored the third run one out later on a solid single to left by Joe Urtuzuastegui.
Dufek allowed just those two hits in his 3 2 /3 innings of work, but was pitching in and out of trouble because of those errors and six walks.
Meanwhile Nunley retired 11 of the next 12 batters after the first-inning run. He entered the seventh with a 4-1 lead and got two quick outs. Desert Mountain twice was down to its last strike, however, and loaded the bases with two outs and scored when Nunley hit the final batter he faced in the foot to force in a run. Lefever came on and retired Dustin Kaats on a fly to right to close it out.
"It was one of those games for us," Desert Mountain coach Bryan Rice said. "Their guy did a good job out there. We just didn’t seem to have a good approach at the plate. It’s hard to explain."