FARMINGTON — In a sloppy game between two of the top teams in the Connie Mack city league, Strike Zone Baseball emerged victorious.
Strike Zone scored six times in the sixth inning with the help of four DC MOB errors to win 11-6 on Monday night at Ricketts Park.
"It's always good to come out and have a good outing and comeback like that," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey. "We just have to keep getting better every day. At this level, if you make the routine plays and limit the mistakes, you're going to win."
Trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Strike Zone took the lead with two out when Danny Rowley hit a ground ball to MOB shortstop Brad Betz. Betz made the stop but a throw in the dirt got by first baseman Gerardo Martinez, allowing Matt Martin and Cody Bower to score.
After that, the wheels fell off for the MOB.
Connor Dugan and Tristan Riznek each reached on MOB errors allowing two more runs to score, then Austin Taft ripped a two-run single, giving Strike Zone an 11-6 advantage.
"We were able to put good (at-bats) together and took it pitch by pitch," Martin said of the comeback. "We were waiting for that one pitch they'd make a mistake on, and we're able to capitalize."
Martin allowed a pair of hits to the MOB to lead on the seventh inning, but retired the next three hitters to secure the win for Strike Zone.
Martin earned the win by pitching a great game in relief of starter Matt Huffhines, throwing three and one-third shutout innings while allowing three hits, striking out two and walking two.
"Throwing strikes and getting ground balls was key," Martin said. "I was just trying to do as much as I can."
Huffhines threw three and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs but only two were earned because of three Strike Zone fielding errors behind him.
"We started Matt Huffhines on short rest after coming back from a tournament so we were hoping to just get three or four (innings) out of him today," Morrissey said. "He threw his butt off for us and then Matt (Martin) came in and closed the door."
Strike Zone opened with three runs in the first inning off of MOB starter Darren Hoselton.
Hoselton lasted just one inning before Clay Miller came on in relief.
Miller blew through the Strike Zone line up, striking out eight of the first 11 hitters he faced, but eventually took the loss after defensive miscues by the MOB and timely hits by Strike Zone.
"He went through the lineup one time, and I mean, Clay is Clay. He had his good stuff and good velocity," Morrissey said. "I just told them to have some good at-bats and keep plugging away out there. That's all you can do off of a kid like that, and eventually, it went our way today."
Miller allowed eight runs (three earned) on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings with nine strike outs and no walks.
"Clay pitched a heck of a game," said MOB head coach Ponch Garcia. "I didn't pitch Clay at the start because I wanted to see if they could hit (Hoselton). Hopefully, we can eliminate the mistakes. We have good defensive players backing up our pitchers. We just have to make the simple plays."
The win was a confidence booster for Strike Zone, who lost to the MOB 9-2 at a tournament in Pueblo, Colo., over the weekend.
"It was a good statement game for us," Martin said.
Both teams expect to see each other down the road in the city tournament with a chance to host the Connie Mack World Series on the line.
"I think we've got a good chance that both these teams will be head-to-head again," Martin said. "It's going to be a dog fight. We're going to go at it and the best team will win."
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.