FARMINGTON — Strike Zone Baseball worked its way through the opening round of the Connie Mack City Tournament with ease behind the right arm of Ian Doughty.
Doughty, a 2013 Piedra Vista High School graduate, struck out 12 Sting batters Tuesday night at Ricketts Park as the three-time defending city champion Strike Zone Baseball club picked up a 4-0 win.
"After all the hard work we have done, I just know I can come out here and give my best," Doughty said. "The defense did everything for me, honestly. Yeah, I had 12 strikeouts, but everything else was clean, and we had no errors. It is my job to go out there and set the tone for the whole week."
Doughty allowed just two hits in the game, both coming in the third inning when Lance Lee and Bryce Washburn both reached. But the Sting left runners on first and third base with only one out as Doughty was able to strike out the Sting's No. 2 and 3 hitters in the lineup to end the inning.
"Defensively and pitching-wise, we executed everything to a tee," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey. "Ian (Doughty) threw a lot of strikes, and we had good intensity defensively."
Strike Zone did most of its damage at the plate in the first inning, scoring three times on four hits.
Jeremy Johnson led off with a single and scored on a fielding error as Matt Martin reached on a single and advanced to third on the error in centerfield. Martin later scored on a Jacy Cave single, and Cave scored on a double off the bat of Tristin Rizek. Cave was 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI and a run scored.
Strike Zone added one more run in the third inning when Danny Rowley scored on a Connor Calvert single.
The Sting started Lee, who lasted three innings while giving up eight hits and three earned runs.
"We knew they were going to pitch Lance (Lee), and our goal was to make him throws a lot of pitches, and we did that," Morrissey said.
Lee was relieved by Isaiah George, who threw three solid innings in relief as he allowed only one hits while recording three strikeouts. He didn't issue a walk, but he did hit a batter with a pitch.
The Sting have a quick turnaround period and will play again at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday against the Aces in an elimination game.
Strike Zone will have a day to rest before facing the DC MOB in a highly anticipated clash at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"We are breaking it down game by game. We didn't look past the Sting. We will make a plan for (DC MOB) at practice tomorrow," Morrissey said. "Having them this early in the bracket doesn't matter. We have to beat them one time or another. Early or late, it is still the same. It is a huge game, but you are coming out to win the whole week. You want to set yourself up for the weekend. It is a big test early, but you have to beat all the teams once anyway."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.