Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

D-II baseball: Greenway, Sahuaro lead competitive field

May 5, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

This is Tyler Frost’s fourth and final year as a varsity pitcher for Phoenix Greenway, but it seems like the right-hander has been around a lot longer than that.

“He pitched a little bit as a freshman, and then he got beat up as a sophomore,’’ Demons coach Matt Denny said after a recent game. “It seems strange to say, but that might have been good for him. In the middle of his sophomore year, he started to come into his own. He had 30-something scoreless innings in 2012.’’

Now Frost and Greenway are on the verge of accomplishing something great. They entered the Division II state tournament as the No. 1 seed.

The Demons earned a first-round bye in the tournament, along with the remaining top eight seeds: No. 2 Tucson Sahuaro, No. 3 Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain, No. 4 Nogales, No. 5 Cottonwood Mingus, No. 6 Flagstaff Coconino, No. 7 Buckeye Verrado and No. 8 Flagstaff.

The tournament will remain one-and-done in the second round, then switch to a double-elimination format.

In the second round, Greenway (24-4) was to play host to No. 17 San Luis (18-4). San Luis advanced with a 4-3 win over No. 16 Douglas in the opening round. The game begins at 7 p.m., with all the other second-rounders at 4 p.m.

Sahuaro (21-5) was to play at home against No. 13 Scottsdale Saguaro (23-7), which defeated No. 18 Tucson Salpointe Catholic 3-1. Bradshaw Mountain (19-7) was to host No. 14 Tucson Catalina Foothills (21-6) which defeated No. 19 Vail Cienega 7-5. Nogales (23-5) was to host No. 20 Gilbert Camp Verde (22-6), which defeated No. 13 Phoenix Moon Valley 5-1.

Also in the second round, Mingus (23-5) was to host No. 12 Yuma Gila Ridge (23-4), which defeated Queen Creek 1-0. Coconino (21-7) was to host No. 11 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (19-10), which defeated Glendale Apollo 6-4. Verrado (22-5) was to host Tucson Canyon del Oro (22-6), which defeated Tucson High 7-4. And Flagstaff (21-6) was to host No. 9 Tucson Sunnyside (19-9), which defeated Sierra Vista Buena 10-3.

According to MaxPreps, Frost had an 8-1 record with a 0.37 ERA. He also was a factor offensively, with 36 hits, 33 RBIs and five home runs.

Sahuaro has relied strongly on the left arm of pitcher Justin Hammergren, who is 9-1 with a 1.57 ERA.

Coach Randy Clifford’s Bradshaw Mountain Bears usually field a strong-hitting team, and this year’s squad is led by Dallas Riggs, who had driven in 33 runs with 45 hits. More than half of those were for extra bases (26), including eight home runs.

Mingus catcher-infielder-pitcher Orlando Machado and infielder-pitcher Pete Kelly combined for 69 RBIs. Coconino had three players with more than 30 RBIs – Brant Chapin (37), Diego Johnson (32) and Fritz Plecas (32).

Verrado also had three men with 30 or more RBIs – Blake Perkins (32), Jesus Azuaje (31) and Luke Gunther (30).  Flagstaff had five players with 20 or more RBIs, and pitchers Kyle Wilson and Tanner Fuhrmann combined for 13 wins.