11-12 Baseball: Verde Valley is focused and relaxed
WILLIAMS -- It's been twoyears in the making. The same group of players were on the 9-10 team that lost twice in the championship game, missing out on a trip to state against Prescott North. Last year the team only had to beat one other team to earn a ticket to State. So this year, the same core group of players are back and determined to be the best team in the District 10 All Star Tournament.
In Williams, the 11-12 Verde Valley All Star team is tuned in and turned up. They began play in the All Star Tournament on Monday against Wickenburg and dominated the game, 10-0 in four innings.
Three pitchers combined for a one-hitter. Brett Pinar started on the mound and pitched two innings before handing over the duties to Ruben Contreras. Contreras did a great job through one inning. Then Zane Scott closed the game out.
At the plate, Verde Valley was unstoppable. Contreras hit a two-run homer in the second inning. If that wasn't enough excitement, teammate Miguel Gonzales got up to bat right after and followed suit, with a solo homer. Zane Scott hit a dinger in the third inning for two more runs
For the game, Herb Tiffany had an RBI, Contreras had three, Miguel Gonzales had two, Cordell McKeever knocked in two runs along with Scott with a pair RBIs.
On Tuesday, Verde Valley had to dig down deep for a very tough win against a skilled pitcher from Williams. Williams struck first with a run in the first inning. Verde Valley remained scoreless until the third inning. Tiffany led off with a single, the Brandon McIlvoy followed with an RBI single down the right field line to tie the game up.
In the fifth inning, Tiffany led off with another single. Contreras was hit by a pitch, and then Brett Pinar knocked Tiffany in with a hit for the go-ahead run. The Verde Valley defense stayed tough and held on for the 2-1 win.
Brett Pinar was on the mound for Verde Valley and only threw 65 pitches in six innings. He allowed three hits and struck out nine batters.
"I have coached that kid since he was 7 years old," said coach Tim McKeever. "I have never seen him as focused and that cool before. The whole team is in a zone."
On Wednesday, Verde Valley was back at it. This time they faced Dewey-Humboldt. Verde Valley crushed D-H, 10-0 in four innings. It was another dominating performance by a group of determined baseball players.
Contreras started on the mound and pitched into the fourth inning. He ran out of pitches, so Scott finished the game with one-pitch to get the final batter out.
"Ruben was lights-out on the mound," said coach McKeever. "We made a great double play when a funky come-backer went to Ruben. He threw it to second and they turned it."
Offensively Miguel Gonzales supplied the power with a two-run homer in the first inning and then Brett Pinar supplied more power in the second inning with a solo homer. Herb Tiffany went 2-for-3, Contreras went 2-for-3 and Gonzales went 2-for-3.
On Saturday, Verde Valley faced a tough Prescott South team. The winner advances to the Championship game, while the loser has to win one more game to make it to the championship game.
"Over the past three or four years, you have to beat either Prescott or Verde Valley to win the tournament. It's going to be a really tough game," said coach McKeever. "They are well-coached and deep in pitching."
Coach McKeever planned on starting Pinar on the mound against Prescott South. Regardless of whether they won or lost, Verde Valley will have fresh arms for action next week. The loser of this game plays on Monday at 6:30 p.m. The championship game is on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The 'if necessary' championship game will be on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
"Our defense is playing out of this world, they are focused and loose," said coach McKeever.
Offensively, Herb Tiffany has been on fire. Through three games, he has gone 7-for-8; the only non-hit was a fielder's choice. Through the first 14 innings Verde Valley played in the tournament, they allowed just one run on five hits, one walk and one hit batter. That is proof that Verde Valley is ready to win it all and advance to the State Tournament.