Baseball: Red Mountain, Highland prevail in tourney finals

March 13, 2014 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Red Mountain used a couple crooked-number innings to put away Desert Vista while Highland scored its runs one at time to edge Perry as a pair of East Valley spring break baseball tournaments concluded play Thursday afternoon and evening.

Red Mountain scored three runs on one hit in the third inning and tallied three more times in the seventh Thursday afternoon to produce a 7-2 victory over Desert Vista to take the championship of the Mesquite Invitational at Mesquite High School. Red Mountain heads to its spring break next week with a 5-7 record overall, but on a much better roll than a week ago. The Mountain Lions, 4-1 in Mesquite's tournament, posted a 1-4 mark in Desert Vista's tournament and dropped a pair of power-ranking games in between to open the season 1-6. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Desert Vista, which was the lone unbeaten team in the tournament prior to Thursday.

Highland High played the rude host for the first time since 2008 at its Triple Play Classic, plating the tying run in the fifth and winning run in the sixth to notch a 4-3 win over Perry at Highland. Highland improved its record to 9-2 overall and is 7-2 in the two tournaments it has played. Perry also is 9-2 and had an eight-game winning streak snapped with the title-game loss. Highland tallied single runs in the first and third before getting its late-inning singletons.

In Red Mountain's triumph, it was a combination of solid pitching from four hurlers and solid defense that shut down hot-hitting Desert Vista. Red Mountain starter Casey Hershey allowed three hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings of work to pick up the win. Connor Seiferth, John Downey and Christian Woodson teamed up for three scoreless innings to finish off the Thunder.

What looked to be a pitcher's duel between Hershey and Desert Vista's Isiah Deutsch, crumbled in the third after Deutsch issued a one-out walk. Downey followedwith a bunt that Deutsch fielded. Deutsch slipped after grabbing the ball and fired wildly to first allowing the runner to advance to to third and Downey to reach second. Hunter Parker, CJ James and Matt Metera drove in a run each with a two fielder's choices and the lone hit of the inning.

Kyle Johnson made it 4-0 Red Mountain in the fourth with an RBI single that brought home a leadoff walk issued by Deutsch. Hershey had a one-hitter going through four innings, but allowed three consecutive runners to reach in the fifth. Kyle Gibbs slammed an RBI double and AJ Valencia an RBI singleas Desert Vista (8-3) cut the deficit to 4-2. Seiferth induced a the second of three double plays Red Mountain turned on the day to halt the rally.

James drove in his second run to start Red Mountain's three-run outburst in the seventh. A wild pitch scored the second run and pinch hitter Tristyn Robillard added a sacrifice fly.

Highland's win over Perry came with late-game heroics by Jake Brown and Ryan Guidice. Brown's two-out single in the fifth, his second RBI of the night, tied the game at 3. The senior right-hander then switched from center field to the mound for two scoreless innings of relief and picked up the victory.

That was made possible by Guidice's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth. Highland's Austin Maltby singled with one out in the sixth off Perry reliever Justin Bair. Maltby's courtesy runner, Blake Harris, advanced to third to set up the winning run when Bair's pickoff throw was low and skipped into foul territory.

Both starting pitchers gave their team a chance to win. Perry's 6-foot-5 lefty Tyler Watson allowed four hits, three walks and fanned six in five innings. Highland lefty Jack Nelson was nearly the same save the strikeout number. Nelson allowed four htis, three runs, two walks and struck out one.

Ryan McCord paced Highland offensively reaching base three times on two walks and a triple. McCord scored all three times. Perry, which scored all of its runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead at the time, got its only RBI from Ryne Edmondson. Edmonson capped the third with a two-run single to shallow left. Shortstop Jeremy McCuin was the only Perry player with multiple hits. McCuin finished with a single and triple and lined out sharply and to right to end the game with the tying run at third.