Baseball: Marcos de Niza builds big lead early to top AJ

April 3, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Marcos de Niza kicked off a big week of action in fine style Monday due in great part to senior Conner Woods.

Woods went 4-for-4 and pitched five solid innings in host Marcos de Niza's 10-4 triumph over Apache Junction in a 4A baseball game matching top-10 teams in the power rankings.

Marcos de Niza scored tsix runs in the first two innings to forge a 6-1 lead and eased through the rest of the contest. MDN improved to 13-6 overall and 8-2 in power-ranking games. Marcos was ranked No. 8 in the power rankings. Apache Junction, ranked No. 5, lost its second game in a row and fell to 15-5, 9-2 prg.

Woods wiggled out of a first-inning jam with the help of a 5-4-3 double play and gave up one of the two runs he allowed in his 65-pitch stint. The first of his four hits  in the bottom of the first helped lead to a three runs as Marcos collected three hits and capitalized on two AJ errors for a 3-1 lead.

A pair of walks and three Marcos de Niza hits in the second provided three more runs as Elias Martinez (2 RBI) and Woods plated runs with a sacrifice fly and single, respectively. The other run came home on a run down after Martinez's sac fly. Woods finished with two doubles, two singles and three RBI. He drove in a run on each of his last three hits.

Woods, who joined teammates Jake Denham and Eric Oden with four wins, biggest out came in the top of the fourth with Marcos leading 6-2. AJ loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and walk. AJ's leading hitter, Prescott Horn, came to the plate. Horn hitting just north of .500 for the season took a rip at Woods first offering. It was a foul out to catcher Max L'Heureux. Horn had singled, walked and scored AJ's only runs to that point.

Marcos leadoff hitter Nick Leach reached base four times and scored each time. Marcos de Niza faces two of its top  East Valley Region foes (Higley on Thursday at home) and Seton (Friday) on the road in a rematch of a 2-0 loss to the Sentinels last week.

Apache Junction got two hits each from Chris Becker and Nathan Rhodes. The Prospectors, currently battling Combs for first place in the 4A Black Canyon Region, has back-to-back region games Tuesday and Thursday against Washington.