The first 4 1/2 innings Thursday afternoon was Mesquite baseball near its best. A 5-0 lead, two double plays turned and pitcher Matt Heibult tossing a three-hitter.
Three and a half innings later, a gradual collapse was complete as Desert Ridge used a double in the bottom of the eighth to secure a 6-5 victory over Mesquite in a Division I contest at Desert Ridge.
Mesquite, playing its thrid game in four days this week, fell to 12-7 overall and 6-3 in power-ranking games. Mesquite was No. 4 in D-I when the day began. Desert Ridge improved to 15-4, 7-2 prg and was No. 10 entering play.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Muzzy hammered a long drive to right that cleared Mesquite right fielder James Harrington with runners at first and second. Both runners had to play it safe to see if Harrington would haul it in. When it hit the ground, Harrington failed to retrieve it quickly. By the time it was thrown in Tanner Pearman was able to score from secondto break the 5-5 tie. It was only Muzzy's second varsity at-bat of the season. He recently came up to give Desert Ridge a backup varsity catcher when one of its varsity catchers was ill for better than a week.
Muzzy's hit capped a tough finish by Mesquite, which committed five errors in the final four Desert Ridge at-bats to help the host Jaguars get back in the game after some of their mistakes took them out of a couple scoring chances. Mesquite made three errors in the fifth when Desert Ridge scored four runs to cut its deficit to 5-4. Another error in the sixth led to the tying run.
Mesquite built its 5-0 lead with a run in the first, three in the third (two on a double by Nick Guervitz and the other on the first of two RBi from Josh Webster). Webster doubled in Mesquite's fifth run in the fifth before things fell apart for the Wildcats.
"We gave it away, flat gave it away," Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said. "We have to learn to play with the lead, and start making the routine plays. We think we're good, but we're not that good. You can't coast like we've done when you play the competition we do."
Desert Ridge coach Bryan Rice was pleased to pick up the win, despite his own team's struggles with base running and missed signs.
"We're still trying to figure things out," Rice said. "We started a freshman pitcher (KC McCormick). He's been pitching well, but didn't have his A stuff. We didn't play very well early, but we battled. These kids come out every day and work hard. Sometimes it's a struggle, but it's nice to win a close game." Prior to Thursday Desert Ridge had droppedall three extra-inning games it played.
Leading the Jaguars, who played errorless ball, was shortstop Cam Richins. Richins had three hits and drove in two runs. Richins handled all six chances that came his way. His best play was throwing out runner at first from his knees in the hole in the sixth inning.
Robbie Morris, the third pitcher used by Desert Ridge, picked up the win working 2/3 of an inning. Guervitz took the loss in relief allowing on run in two inning. Heibult allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings, but only one was earned.