PLAYOFF BASEBALL: Camp Verde eliminated, Mingus advances

Camp Verde starter Jesse Fullbright fields a bunt and throws to first, but the runner is safe Tuesday against Snowflake in the first round of the Division III baseball state playoffs. VVN/Sean Morris *Photo published with permission from the AIA.

Camp Verde starter Jesse Fullbright fields a bunt and throws to first, but the runner is safe Tuesday against Snowflake in the first round of the Division III baseball state playoffs. VVN/Sean Morris *Photo published with permission from the AIA.

SURPRISE - The (17) Camp Verde Cowboys baseball team lost, 4-2, to the (16) Snowflake Lobos Tuesday at the Surprise Stadium Complex in the first round of the Division III state playoffs.

"We had our chances, but we were one hit away too many times," said Camp Verde head coach Steve Hicks. "We just didn't get those hits . . . that's baseball."

Jesse Fullbright got the start for Camp Verde. Initially the Lobos had trouble timing Fullbright's changeup, and his curve turned them statuesque, but eventually Lobos hitters made the necessary adjustments to force a Camp Verde pitching change.

Doug Ashley took over in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and no outs.

Ashley got the first batter he faced to fly out to left field and Gavin Collins threw a rocket to catcher Andy Minner to force the Lobos runner at third to hold up.

The throw from Collins short hopped and got past Minner, so the Lobos runner at third thought he saw an opportunity to head home, but a Cowboy was backing up home plate. He tossed the ball to Minner and Camp Verde got the out at home for an unconventional double play.

Later in the inning, Cowboys' third baseman Kyle Lobaugh fielded a ground ball and threw to first for an out. The Cowboys escaped the fourth inning without letting a run cross home plate.

"I thought that was going to be a turning point in the game," said Camp Verde junior Austin Stutzman, "but then we had another short inning at the plate and gave the momentum back to them."

Snowflake made a pitching change after Billy Wilson hit an RBI double. The Cowboys dugout felt confident they could hit the Snowflake reliever as they watched the new pitcher warm up, but Wilson's double was the last RBI of the game for Camp Verde.

The Cowboys entered the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak, including wins over Prescott, Payson, and Sedona. Instead of burying their heads in the sand after a slow start to the season (5-7), the Cowboys showed character to win out and make the playoffs. They played with confidence, but it just wasn't meant to be against Snowflake.

Five seniors played their last game for Camp Verde HS Tuesday: Gavin Collins, Andy Minner, Kody Rayburn, Michael Casillas, and Josh Benson.

"Those five guys have been very important to us," said Hicks. "It's going to be tough to replace them."

The Camp Verde roster will be stacked with seniors next year, including an entire infield. Snowflake moves on to play the No. 1 seeded River Valley

FLAGSTAFF - Predictably, the (9) Mingus baseball team mercy ruled the (24) Monument Valley Mustangs, 14-2, Tuesday at Coconino HS in the first round of the Division III playoffs.

The Marauders move on to play (8) Show Low (the school that eliminated Mingus in the first round of the 2011 Division IV football playoffs).

The game starts Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Surprise Stadium. It should be a great game.

*The first round of the Division III baseball state playoffs had no upsets; the better seed won every game.

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