The game was tied at 2-2 on Tuesday and the Trojans had runners on first and second with the go-ahead run at second and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was the perfect opportunity and then it was over in a flash as Sierra Vista turned a double play and then picked off the winning run at home plate on the next play. The Mountain Lions then won the game 3-2 in the next inning.
The Trojans had lost a perfect opportunity, but Trojans coach Brian Hayes was not upset at the end.
“We put on a “leave early” steal play in the bottom of the sixth,” he said. “Our 9-hole hitter had two strikes on him and it was unlikely that he would make contact so we had our runner at first get picked off and the runner at third tried to beat the throw home. It didn’t work. Give Sierra Vista credit. They executed the play perfectly. We were happy with the way the boys played. It was a fun game to watch.”
With the loss, the Trojans’ (11-14 overall, 4-7 Sunset League) playoff hopes are dimmed further because now they have to win all the rest of their games, which includes beating Faith Lutheran, undefeated in league.
On the bright side, pitcher Garrett Lucas is showing some promise. He had six strikeouts in seven innings and gave up only three walks and two earned runs.
“I really enjoy the fact that the coach has given me the opportunity to show what I have,” he said. “I know I want that pitch back that led to them getting a hit in the seventh. It was fastball right down the middle on the first pitch.”
Lucas would be the first to admit that his fastball was not his best pitch that day.
“I would have to say my changeup was my best pitch,” Lucas said.
Overall, Lucas was not disappointed with his pitching. After all, he threw three solid innings where he went 1-2-3.
“I am disappointed in the loss, but I am not angry with how our team played,” Lucas said. “We played a good game.”
Hayes also liked the way Lucas pitched the game.
“Garrett gets better every time he pitches,” he said. “It’s fun to watch him and Willie (catcher) look at the scouting report and learn how to pitch to a hitter’s weakness.”
Hayes recently moved junior centerfielder Aaron Fuentes to the lead-off spot in the batting lineup and it has paid off.
“We envisioned Aaron as a middle-of-the-order hitter as well, but he struggled mightily last season and the beginning of this season,” the coach said. “He plays so well defensively that we can’t take his glove out of the lineup. We moved him to the top so that he would see more fastballs.”
And that is what Fuentes whacked on Tuesday for a triple. He hit the triple to open in the bottom of the first, belting a long flyball to center, that almost cleared the fence. It dropped right on the warning track. Fuentes has one home run this year.
“He’s not a prototypical lead-off guy,” Hayes said. “He doesn’t look to take a lot of pitches, but when the pitcher looks to get ahead with a fastball, he is ready to hit it.”
That’s for sure. Fuentes looks more like a linebacker than he does a lead-off hitter.
But while Fuentes flourished in this game, the heart of the lineup went cold. The first five batters for the Trojans other than Fuentes only recorded two hits.
The Trojans played Cheyenne on Thursday (4-8, 4-7), which was past deadline and then are at Del Sol (13-12, 6-6 Sunrise League) in non-league action today at 3:30 p.m.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at email@example.com