AIA365 Staff Insiders
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Baseball: Desert Vista maintains steady pace, tops Mtn. ViewApr 4, 2014
Desert Vista wasn't winning many close games early in the season, but the Thunder are collecting their share now.
Desert Vista spotted Mesa Mountain View a 3-1 lead in the first inning, but battled back behind solid pitching and the offensive spark of No. 8 Keenan Bartlett to defeat the host Toros 7-3 in a Division I baseball matchup.
Juniors Zach Hardy and Brendan McKee combined on a four-hitter to help Desert Vista improve to 14-5 overall, 6-3 in power-ranking games. Even at 5-3 in power-ranking contests prior to the game, the Thunder was fifth in D-I power rankings. Winning its fair share of power-ranking games and the very rigorous slate Desert Vista has undertaken is all part of its high status.
"We wanted a tough schedule," Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich said. "We lost some games early, one run games to tough opponents. Lost by a run to Hamilton (tournament game), Horizon, Mountain Pointe and got beat by Mesquite that wasn't by a run. We have a bunch of guys that play hard and give it all they have."
Desert Vista committed both errors it made in the first inning behind Hardy that aided Mountain View's three-run frame. Chase Anderson had the lone Mountain View RBI in the inning on a double. The other runs scored via a bobble in center field and a wild pitch.
Hardy brushed off the slow start following it with 4 2/3 innings two-hit, no-run baseball. That enabled his team to battle back with scoring rallies in the fifth, sixth and seventh that dealt Mountain View (13-9. 6-4 prg) its second loss in three days to a top-10 power-ranking foe. Mountain View bowed to Brophy on Wednesday.
Bartlett, one of six seniors in Desert Vista's starting lineup, got the Thunder on the road to victory with a leadoff double in the fifth. Mountain View starter Nolan Ross, who also scuffled in the first inning not all his doing, got a fly out and then faced leadoff hitter AJ Valencia. Valencia line a ball to medium left field that fooled Toros' left fielder Brady Gerber off the bat. Gerber lunged for the ball and missed. It spun away and rolled to the left-field corner as the speedy Valencia circled the bases for an inside-the-park, game-tying homer.
With the game knotted at 3 in the top of the sixth, Kyle Gibbs ripped a one-out single and his courtesy runner stole second. Bartlett followed with a solid single to left center giving Desert Vista the lead for good. 4-3. Desert Vista tacked on three runs in a nightmare seventh for Mountain View. The Thunder used two hits, two walks and two hit batters to blow the game open. Bartlett drove in one of the runs with a bases-loaded walk. Gibbs was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Cullen Bottock's infield hit brought home the final run. Desert Vista's 7-8-9 hitters combined for four of seven RBI. Bartlett had three hits and three RBI in a win earlier this week at Highland.
"(Bartlett) has been hitting well lately," Luketich said. "He hit the ball hard today. Made solid contact. Our guys hitting 7-8-9 have helped us win some games."
McKee, who got the final out in the sixth with the tying run at third, struck out two in a scoreless seventh to close out the Toros.
"Both pitchers did a good job," Luketich said. "When you play Mountain View you better come prepared to play the whole game. It was a battle. I have a lot of respect for their coaches and players."