Camp Verde baseball wins Central championship
Camp Verde High baseball beat Scottsdale Prep on the road on Tuesday to win the region and likely secure a top eight spot.
The No. 5 Cowboys (19-6-1, 10-1) beat the Spartans 6-3 to close out the regular season and win their ninth straight. The Cowboys won the Central Region second time in three years.
“We played really well, pitcher Dakota Battise threw great, kept them in trouble all game long and almost finished it out,” CV head coach Will Davis said.
The loss was the Spartans’ first home defeat of the season. They dropped to No. 9 in the rankings.
“We did really good, we came out fired up like we should, hit the ball like we should, really good defense, everything that we should be doing,” Battise said.
Battise pitched 6.1 innings, giving up four hits, one earned run and two walks and striking out six. Senior Dawson McCune relieved him and got the last two outs.
“It went pretty good for me, I didn’t hit really good but I was pitching, so I was more worried about that factor,” Battise said. “First two innings located really well, breaking pitch was really good but I wasn’t really going for strike outs, more just get the outs, win the game.”
In March the Cowboys handed the Spartans their first loss of the season, a 10-0 CV victory in five innings at Camp Verde. So more than just a shot at the region title was at stake for Scottsdale Prep in their home finale.
“Yeah it was pretty tough, they came out very motivated (Tuesday),” Davis said. “It was til the third inning when anybody scored and then we both picked up two in that inning and it stayed 2-2 until the fifth when we finally broke it open, got a couple hits, a couple things go our way, a couple stolen bases and we’re able to break it open.”
Senior Dominiq Bruno led the way at the plate with two RBIs. Sophomore Mason Rayburn, junior Kelton O’Grady and McCune also drove in runs.
Bruno, O’Grady and senior Braden Schuh each doubled.
With the win over the Spartans, the Cowboys have finished first in all three years of the Central Region’s current form. They won the region outright in 2017 and this year and finished tied for first last year but lost a tie breaker
“Oh it was awesome, we did it my freshman year and unfortunately we didn’t get to last year but this year we put in so much more work, we worked a lot harder and we just game out and we accomplished our first goal, which was winning region,” O’Grady said about winning the Central.
This year the Cowboys, Northland Prep and Scottsdale Prep controlled the region, with CV finishing 10-1, NPA 9-2. Camp Verde’s only region loss was to Northland Prep, who only lost to the Cowboys and Scottsdale Prep, who fell to Camp Verde and NPA.
Northland Prep finish second in 2017 and 2019 and won the region championship last year (thanks to their overall 2A record) starting a rivalry with Camp Verde atop the Central.
“Yeah that’s a really good deal, the Northland Prep game here was a battle, two one run games with those guys, they got us by one there, we got them by one down here and that’s ultimately what decided it, so yeah it’s been fun really building a new rivalry with that group up there and always great for the kids when they win something, whether it’s a region title or what have you,” Davis said.
During their win streak, the Cowboys only played two close games, Tuesday’s and the 2-1 win over NPA at home. The Cowboys had a plan for how to deal with those lopsided games.
“It’s really tough but what we try to do is just tell them to ‘hey, play those first two, three innings like this is the state championship and just come out and put your best foot forward’ and so that’s kind of our motivation every time we play a team that we know isn’t gonna be a tough game and then after that third inning we get the other guys in and then we can take a deep breath and still get good work in,” Davis said.
With a No. 5 ranking as of Thursday, the Cowboys will almost surely avoid the play-in game for teams ranked ninth through 24 and start the state tournament on May 3 at 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. at Goodyear Baseball Complex.
“We’re at our peak, we’re doing good, everyone’s hitting good, everyone’s talking good, communication, the defense, everything’s getting locked down, we’re finally getting where we need to be for state,” O’Grady said.