It's rare to see Jake Barrett struggle. But even when he did in the first inning on Tuesday, his teammates were there to pick him up.
The Mesa Desert Ridge ace gave up a single and two doubles against the first four batters he faced, but a perfect relay throw from shortstop Jerry Kleman on one of the doubles gunned down Gilbert Highland leadoff man Jaime Garrido at the plate and limited the damage to just one run in the frame.
Barrett settled down the rest of the way for a complete game, 4-2 victory over the Hawks in a 5A nonregion matchup at Desert Ridge.
"I told him after the first, that's going to be your worst inning," Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera said. "And it was."
Five of the first ten batters reached base for Highland.
But once Barrett saw that Highland was looking for fastballs, he countered with off-speed pitches.
"Maybe I was a little too pumped because they beat us a couple games ago (on March 4)," Barrett said. "I wanted payback."
At one point, Barrett set down 12 of 13 batters, striking out nine in the stretch. He had 12 strikeouts overall.
Desert Ridge was nursing a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Steven Bier blasted a two-run home run to left field to pad the lead. Bier finished the day 3-for-4.
"He usually plays left field, but we DH'ed him today," Herrera said. "I don't know why, but it paid off."
The insurance runs were needed, because the Hawks put the first two runners on in the top of the seventh inning to bring the tying run to the plate.
Barrett took care of two batters, then hit Garrido with a pitch to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored Taylor Whatcott to cut the lead to 4-2 and move the tying run up to second base.
Barrett, though, didn't give in, striking out Trey Maldonado to finish the game.
Barrett outdueled Highland left-hander James Pazos, who pitched five innings and gave up four runs (three earned).
Whatcott went 2-for-2 with a double to lead Highland.