There was a team that looked worthy of the state’s No. 1 ranking Tuesday afternoon, it just wasn’t the one that currently holds that honor.
Unranked Mesa Red Mountain played solid baseball in all phases of the game for its seventh straight win after opening the year with three consecutive losses, posting a 5-1 victory over No. 1 Scottsdale Desert Mountain in a 5A nonregion matchup.
Derek Mendoza threw four shutout innings and hit a solo homer for the host Mountain Lions. Five different players had RBIs and the defense was stellar from start to finish.
“That’s what we’ve been doing, playing fundamental baseball” Red Mountain coach Henry Faccio said. “Everything’s kind of clicking right now. Our hitting kind of struggled at the beginning, but our pitching’s been solid and our defense has been playing well.”
The Mountain Lions used a big third inning to take control. Two base hits, a hit batter, a walk, a sacrifice fly and an error contributed to three runs and an early 3-0 lead.
Mendoza hit an opposite-field solo shot in the fourth inning and Mark Jarrett added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-0.
Desert Mountain had runners at second and third with nobody out in the seventh but plated just one run.
“We can win every game if we play like that,” Mendoza said. “It’s a real good (win) for us. It keeps the momentum going.”
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak for the Wolves (9-2), who missed out on some chances to take control early on.
Desert Mountain stranded two runners in the first, then had runners on second and third with one out in the second. But Robert Neill was thrown out at home on a grounder to third, and Taylor Lindsay grounded out to second to end the threat.
“The defense was on today, it really helped me out,” Mendoza said.
Red Mountain (7-3) mustered only four hits, but three of them knocked in runs.
“We didn’t get a lot of hits, but we got some key hits,” Faccio said.
“That’s kind of a change from when we would get a lot of hits but not the key ones.”
The two teams will square off again on Monday in the Mesquite Tournament.