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Sabino nips Valley Christian on 8th inning HR

March 27, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Sabino's Tyler Welsh reaches home plate after delivering decisive HR in 8th inning to beat Valley Christian, 6-5. (Azpreps365 photo)

The ebb and flow of Saturday's matchup of two top 3A baseball teams seemed to favor Valley Christian late.

The Trojans had shaken 4-0 and 5-1 deficits after the first and second innings, respectively. They chipped away from that point to tie the game at 5 after seven innings.

One swing of the bat, however, in the top of eighth by senior Tyler Welsh was enough to lift Sabino off the deck and claim a 6-5 extra-inning triumph at Valley Christian. Sabino, the 3A state champion when one was last crowned in 2019, improved to 5-1. Valley Christian, a heavy contender last year with a dominating 8-0 start had the season not been postponed, is 4-1.

Sabino, which saw its 5-1 lead slip to 5-3 after three and ultimately a tie as Valley Christian scored single runs in the sixth and seventh, was having no success against the Trojans' second pitcher - Spencer Seigworth. Valley Christian coach Damian Gilliland had the luxury of using his top two starters to work the game. Senior Levi Graham struggled in two innings of work going to deep counts and throwing 40 pitches in Sabino's four-run first. Graham allowed four hits, five runs (three earned), two walks and fanned one.

Seigworth took over in the third and took over he did. The sophomore right-hander threw five perfect innings, fanning four. Sabino finally got a baserunner against him to begin the eighth - Seigworth plunked the Sabercats' Dylan Bradford. Two pitches later, Seigworth erased that miscue picking off Bradford. Welsh was at the plate at the time for his fourth at-bat. He homered on a 2-1 offering to left center. Seigworth pitched out of trouble to escape the frame with one run, but the pressure reverted to Valley Christian again to come back. Seigworth gave up a run, two hits and fanned five in six innings.

Sabino coach Shane Folsom also had his top two pitchers available and senior Welsh was the starter. Welsh lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up four hits, walked six and struck out four before giving way to ace and fellow senior Jake Wiltshire with a runner at first. Wiltshire , who started at shortstop, struggled with command at first throwing seven balls in a row to start his stint. A couple wild pitches and a passed ball were among those and allowed the inherited runner to score cutting the lead to 5-4.

Wiltshire dealt with two errors working the seventh - one by Welsh at third and his throwing error that gave up the tying run. Wiltshire struck out the side in the seventh with the tying run at second.

There were no strikeouts in Valley Christian's final at-bat. Wiltshire gave up a one-out single to TJ Oster, but the three putouts went to centerfielder Bradford - one near the warning track, one a hot liner and the other the game-ending routine fly.

Top hitters for Sabino were Welsh 2-4, 3 RBI and Bradford 2-3. Valley Christian's Tanner Huguez was 2-4 and scored three times and Jack Kelly 2-4 (both doubles) and two RBI.