FARMINGTON— Sometimes a final score can explain everything you need to know about a game. Whether it was defensive battle, offenses trading shots, or a complete blowout by one team. And after Strike Zone handed Bayfield a 14-1 loss Monday evening at Ricketts Park, based solely on the score, you'd think of it as a one-sided contest.
But that wasn't necessarily the case.
Yes, the game was called after five innings because of the run rule, but it was far from a start-to-finish domination by Strike Zone. In fact, through the games first three innings Strike Zone recorded just two hits off Bayfield starting pitcher Zane Phelps.
"He threw really well and he has been throwing really well lately," said Bayfield coach Jonathon Qualls. "If we had a defense that backed him up today it'd probably be a pretty close game."
In the second inning the Bayfield defense committed two errors, plus a hit batter by Phelps, that led to three runs for Strike Zone.
But Phelps returned to the mound in the third and retired the side.
Then the fourth inning started.
To leadoff the inning, facing a 1-2 count, Strike Zone's James Harrington singled into right, marking the start of the collapse for Bayfield.
Each of the next five batters reached base safely, the first being hit by a pitch and the next four on singles. Then, another error on the Bayfield defense and a pair of hit batters saw the inning's fifth and sixth runs score.
Strike Zone made thirteen plate appearances and scored nine runs before Bayfield recorded the inning's first out.
"He started to get tired," Qualls said of Phelps. "We played four games this weekend and he started leaving stuff up that last inning. And then we messed up an easy double play, and that doesn't ever help."
With no outs and the bases loaded Strike Zone's Lawrence Mayberry grounded to Bayfield second baseman Adam Ridens. Ridens fielded the ball and turned to shortstop Anthony Chamblee to get the force at second but a bobble prevented the double play conversion.
By the time Bayfield gott out of the inning Strike Zone made 17 plate appearances and scored 11 runs.
"Beside the one inning it wasn't too bad," Qualls said. "But that's kind of how our season has been. We play alright for three innings, but haven't been able to put many full games together."
While Strike Zone blew the game open in the fourth, they had their share of issues.
Pitcher Chase Beal, a product of Queen Creek, Ariz., made his first appearance on the mound for Strike Zone, and at times struggled with his command.
Strike Zone coach Adam Morrissey said the issues with Beal's control were simply a result of playing with a new team in a new environment, adding that it won't be an issue after a couple more games with the team.
Regardless, Beal had catcher Kelton McCoy, of Bayfield, Colo., working hard behind the plate to keep the ball in front of him.
"It's tough with these import pitchers," said McCoy, who was catching Beal for the first time. "You only get 30-pitch bullpens so it's tough to tell what they really have. And when he comes out throwing as hard as he does, it's an adjustment."
In the end the game ended in Strike Zone's favor, and McCoy said there's no reason why his team won't continue to win leading up to and through July's City Tournament that decides the host team for this year's Connie Mack World Series.
"I think we're coming together and really hitting our stride at the right time," McCoy said. "Heading into the city tournament with our lineup and defense and the pitching we have, I don't think there is anyone that can beat us."