The first full seven-inning game of 2017 saw the Sedona Red Rock High School baseball team hang around with visiting Payson High School for four innings, but gave up 10 runs in the final three to lose 16-2 on Friday, March 3.
In the loss, the Scorpions [0-1], down 1-0, gave up five runs in the fifth and seven more in a long seventh inning.
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“It was little bit of a let down after the fourth inning,” Red Rock head coach Craig Eagle said. “I saw promise early, but we kind of made mental errors and fielding errors. Up until the fourth we were right in there.”
Less than two weeks removed from basketball season, Scorpions senior ace Randy Rodriguez turned in four strong innings.
He struck out two in the second and a third to open the third. A fielding error by senior first baseman Walker Cox allowed Payson’s first run to reach base. The Longhorns bunted him over and batted him in on consecutive plays.
The Scorpions followed with short at bats; the first two batters each sent the first pitch to the outfield for outs, and the third struck out.
While batting worries Eagle, he does not want his players to be timid at the plate, which they were not. The Scorpions struck out to end six of seven innings and a total of 12 times.
“I did want to get aggressive, their guy pitching [senior Hunter Paul] was getting ahead of our hitters,” Eagle said. “I’m all for being aggressive, I hate strikeouts looking.”
Red Rock had a chance to tie in the fourth. Junior shortstop Michael Ortega and sophomore left fielder Ryan Farmer singled and senior second baseman Dawson Barber walked, but freshman right fielder Michael Lagorio struck out to end the threat.
Things began to unravel in the fifth; Payson took advantage of six hits and an error to score five runs to go up 6-0.
“I think my arm got a little tired and I got a little frustrated once they got hits,” Rodriguez said. “I got out of focus and started rushing my pitches.”
In the fifth junior catcher Wyatt Ross drove Rodriguez in on an RBI ground out, who reached on an error, stole second and gained third on a passed ball, but a strikeout looking ended the inning.
Freshman pitcher Jake Hobson relieved Rodriguez in the sixth and walked his first three batters. A sacrifice fly and an RBI ground out drove in two Longhorn runs.
Red Rock again had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, but back-to-back strikeouts got Payson out of the jam.
Barber relieved Hobson in the seventh, where 10 hits, two walks and a pair of errors helped the Longhorns blow the game open.
“I think the balls were just falling in,” Ross said. “They just kind of put it in spots where we weren’t. We had a few errors and that doesn’t help.”
Payson racked up 21 hits compared to three for Red Rock.
“I think we did good as a team for the first four innings,” said Rodriguez, who finished with five strikeouts. “Once we got down on the scoreboard we put our heads down and that’s something we can’t do if we want to go far in State, or at least win the games we’re supposed to.”
The team played on Tuesday, March 7, against visiting Anthem Preparatory Academy, but results were unavailable at press time. It next plays at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Kingman Academy High School.