Jason Grantham’s debut as Mesa Red Mountain baseball coach couldn’t have been much better. Part of the reason it was a success was the debut as a varsity pitcher of sophomore Cole Gleason.
Gleason surrendered one run in five innings and helped himself out at the plate with a pair of solo homers as Red Mountain topped Mesa Mountain View, 7-2, in the first round of the Phoenix Desert Vista Tournament at Desert Vista High School.
“Other than the first inning when they had some good at-bats and fouled some pitches off, I thought he did well,” Grantham said of Gleason, who got his feet wet as a hitter at the varsity level last season. “Our starting battery out there today was sophomores. They worked well together.”
Grantham, a long-time assistant in the program, took over this season for the retired Henry Faccio.
Gleason gave up a run on three hits in the first inning, but just three hits and no runs over the next four frames.
Red Mountain answered the early 1-0 deficit with three runs of its own in the first and never looked back. An RBI single by senior Derek Mendoza, who added a two-run homer in his next at-bat, a fielding error and a bases loaded walk to Tyler Grant, put the Lions up 3-1.
Red Mountain did the bulk of its damage against Mountain View sophomore left-hander Hayden Rogers, who was one of nine new starters for the Toros. The entire Mountain View starting lineup in 2008 were seniors.
Mendoza, a starter for Red Mountain for the third straight season, homered in the second inning to increase the lead to 5-1 and Gleason followed with the first of his two solos — a long blast well over the left field fence. Gleason added his second homer of the game in the fourth off Mountain View junior John Boehme, who allowed just one run and two hits in three innings.
T.J Bennett, an outfielder last year who started late in the season as a sophomore, collected two hits in his 2009 debut playing shortstop.
Mountain View equaled Red Mountain’s hit total of eight, with Anthony Reda, Gus Monteverde and Connor Knoles rapping out two hits apiece. Mountain View stranded 10 runners.