Pitching and defense continued to guide Horizon baseball's path to success and a tad more space in first place on Wednesday in the highly competitive 6A Desert Valley Region.
Colin King pitched six solid innings and converted left-handed hitter Logan Kershner delivered two hits and three RBI to pace Horizon's 5-2 victory over visiting Mountain Ridge.
"That's what it's been for us, pitching and defense," Horizon coach Eric Kibler said. "A lot of tight games playing in a tough region. We're scoring enough with those things to win games." Horizon's last four wins have been by scores of 3-0, 3-2, 4-1 and 5-2.
Horizon has reeled off four consecutive region wins and is alone in first place with a 5-1 region record. That's one game better than second-place Sandra Day O'Connor. The Huskies, No. 3 in the power rankings, are 20-3-1 overall and 11-2 in power-ranking games.
Mountain Ridge (16-7-1, 9-3) is experiencing a mini-spiral. A week ago Lance Billinglsey's team was No. 1 iand unbeaten in the power rankings. The Mountain Lions have dropped three in a row (Desert Mountain, Mesa High and Horizon) and are 3-2 in region. They were fourth in the power rankings prior to Wednesday's game. In its three-game skid, Mountain Ridge has scored two runs in each game.
King, who improved to 5-1 for the year, with an ERA right at 2.00, was presented with a 3-0 lead after two innings and 5-1 advantage after three. Horizon bunched three of its eight hits in the second, getting RBI from Kershner, Kody Huff and Evan Williams of Mountain Ridge starter Nolan Ruff.
Mountain Ridge looked to get untracked in the top of the third, getting three singles off King. Josh Sandoval had the final one twith two outs that drove in Spencer Campman, but the Mountain Lions rally was cut short as Williams gunned down Travis Warinner by plenty at third base for the third out.
Horizon tacked on two unearned runs in the third with Kershner, who hit in No. 8 hole, bouncing a seeing-eye, two-run single to center with two outs. Kershner just started hitting left-handed in games earlier this month.
"We were having fun in practice one day and saw him hit left-handed," Kibler said. "We saw enough with that to switch him over. He's had some big hits in the last four games. Two of them today."
Mountain Ridge added a run in the seventh on three hits off Huff, who spelled King in the seventh. The Mountain Lions have aa fourth successive road game Thursday at Pinnacle and finish a suspended game at home on Friday against Hamilton.
Huff (three hits), Kershner and Kevin Drake (two hits) combined for seven of Horizon's hits. Mountain Ridge finished with eight hits with only Warinner getting two.