FARMINGTON — After surrendering a sizeable lead in the sixth inning, Strike Zone Baseball came through with a run when it needed it most on Tuesday.
Strike Zone Baseball defeated the Rocky Mountain Baseball Club based out of Grand Junction, Colo., 7-6 at Ricketts Park, thanks to a Matt Huffhines walk-off single that scored Trent Rizek with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"It is always fun, but I wasn't trying to do too much," Huffhines said of his game-winning hit. "I just wanted to put it in play."
After a 1-0 loss to the Albuquerque Baseball Academy in the morning, the win was uplifting for Strike Zone as the team prepares to play in a big tournament in Pueblo, Colo., later this week.
"It was a good day at the park for us," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey. "I told the guys we still have to keep getting better and better. Facing two quality clubs this early in the season is huge for us."
Eastern Arizona College pitcher Indalecio Romo started for Strike Zone on Tuesday. In just four innings of work, Romo struck out seven Rocky Mountain hitters. He allowed three hits and two runs, all coming in the second inning for Rocky Mountain.
Romo was replaced by Bud Wiley, who struggled in the fifth inning while allowing four runs that tied the game 6-6.
A hit batter and a walk led to two Rocky Mountain runs, and a three-run double hit by TJ Tway accounted for most of the damage.
Huffhines pitched the top of the seventh inning and earned a hold to give Strike Zone a chance to win the game with one run in the bottom half.
Rizek hit a one-out single and advanced to third base on an Ian Doughty single to right field.
Huffhines, who hits ninth in the Strike Zone lineup, then delivered an opposite field flair that stayed fair down the left field line.
"Huffy is a scrapper out there who will give you whatever he has got pitching or hitting. He is a tough out, and it was good to see him come through," Morrissey said.
Strike Zone did most of its damage in the first inning, scoring four runs after starting the game with four consecutive singles.
A Jacy Cave single scored Jeremy Johnson and Matt Martin, and Cave eventually scored on a Huffhines single.
Martin scored again in the second inning on a wild pitch after reaching base on a double to leadoff the inning.
Though Strike Zone gave up four runs in the sixth, Morrissey said it was a valuable learning lesson to play in a game that came down to the wire.
"Every game is going to be different. When we give up four, it won't be the first or last time," he said. "We have to learn to come back from it and get through. We are learning how to handle those situations."
Morrissey was happy to have Rocky Mountain Baseball Club at Ricketts Park and credited general manager Joe LeFebre and coach Corey Lovern for organizing a solid program of players from around the country, including from New York and Arkansas.
"They are a good club that knows how to play. They have good coaching over there and play the game the right way," Morrissey said.