FARMINGTON – Matt Huffhines delivered Farmington High baseball fans a present on his 18th birthday.
Huffhines pitched No. 3 Farmington High past No. 14 Centennial 5-1 in the first game of a best-of-three series in the first round of the 4A baseball state tournament at Ricketts Park on Friday.
“It feels good anytime you can get a win. Coach (Sean) Trotter has a lot of trust in me to do good for him and it felt good to get the ball,” Huffhines said.
Huffhines shut down the Hawks’ lineup, allowing just three hits over seven innings. He issued one walk and struck out one. The lone Centennial run was unearned.
“Huffhines went out and filled up the strikezone with fastballs and located well,” Trotter said. “He is a lefty who can do that. I am proud of his efforts today with the birthday and all that stuff. He did a good job.”
Centennial scored the first run of the game in the top of the third inning when Zeke Castillo scored on a Huffhines wild pitch.
Castillo reached first on an error and advanced to third base on a second Scorps error in the inning. Farmington High had three errors in the game.
“We had bad energy from the start. It wasn’t what we hoped for after last week’s game against PV,” Trotter said. “We are aware we have to fix the mishaps when it ramps up here next week.”
Lance Lee gave Farmington High a lead in the bottom of the third inning with a single that scored Brandon Padilla and Austin Davis, both of whom singled to start the inning.
Lee had three RBIs on Friday, coming through with another big run-scoring single in the fourth inning to bring in Padilla.
Lee was one of the only Scorpions who saw the ball well out of Centennial starting pitcher Ben Koerper.
“I like to hit lefties. I see the ball a lot better,” Lee said. “This whole year I feel like I have kind of found my spot. I know I have to come through. Being a junior, I have to be a big part of it right now.”
Farmington High tacked on its fifth run in the bottom of the fifth inning when pinch hitter Landon Nelson drove in Frankie Gutierrez, who reached on a one-out double.
Koerper did a good job keeping the Scorps off balance most of the game. Though Koerper allowed 10 FHS hits, he struck out eight Scorps in four and two-third innings of work.
He did issue four walks and plunked one batter.
“Koerper did a good job keeping the ball away and changing speeds. We helped him a little bit, but he did a good job,” Trotter said of the Centennial starter. “That kid will be a good pitcher. Coach (Rusty) Evans has that team doing a great job and they were ready to go.”
The Scorps weren’t pleased with their state tournament opener, and Lee expects to see more intensity today when the two teams play Game 2 at 10 a.m.
“We want to step it up. We came out a little dead and without the energy we usually have,” Lee said. “It is important to take it one game at a time. We will get there.”
John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.