Camp Verde High baseball’s bid to extend their unexpected season came up just short on Tuesday.
The No. 19 Cowboys lost 5-3 at No. 12 Northland Prep. Camp Verde needed to win the game to secure the 2A Central’s automatic bid to the state tournament.
With the loss, the Cowboys, NPA and No. 17 Paradise Honors tied for the region championship. Each team had 5-3 region records but Northland Prep’s 7-3 conference record earned them the automatic bid to the state tournament.
Paradise Honors was in the second spot with an 11-5 2A record and Camp Verde was third among the champions with a 7-5 conference record.
Northland Prep scored two runs in each of the first two innings and then another in the fourth. Camp Verde scored a pair in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Freshman Mason Rayburn pitched a complete game for the Cowboys, giving up two earned runs, six hits and five walks while striking out five over the six innings.
Junior utility player Dominiq Bruno went 3-for-4 and scored a run. Rayburn, sophomore utility player Coke Bast and junior first baseman/pitcher Dawson McCune each had a multi-hit game as well.
Freshman infielder/outfielder Peyton Kelley hit a double. The Cowboys stole four bases.
NPA senior shortstop/pitcher Bennett Wojcik had three RBIs. Wojcik pitched six innings, giving up 10 hits, two earned runs, one walk and striking out two. Junior Sawyer Messick got the save.
Camp Verde beat the Spartans 10-0 in five innings earlier in the month at home.
The Cowboys closed out the season losing three of their last four.
Although Camp Verde’s season will likely end earlier than they would have hoped, the youthful Cowboys defied expectations.
Last year they won the region but they did so on the strength of 10 seniors out of 16 varsity players.
This year they had zero seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen.
They lost seven all-region selections, region offensive player of the year and co-player of the year, with 2017 second team all-region honoree Bruno being a rare returnee from last year who played extensively last season.
“Honestly at the beginning of the year I’d have been really happy with a .500 team and I’d have been really happy with a team that just went out-competed and played hard; regardless of record or score,” said CV head coach Will Davis.