FARMINGTON — 4-Corners gained the upper hand in the Connie Mack City Tournament with help from a dominant pitching performance from Cam Baird.
Baird, a 2014 Raton graduate, allowed just two hits in seven innings of work as the Club Sox shut out Strike Zone 2-0 on Thursday at Ricketts Park.
"The fastball and slider is what we stuck with. It's what has been working all summer," said Baird, who is committed to Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colo. "We did our scouting report, and it turned out great."
Baird was able to settle in early after 4-Corners shortstop Matt Martin started the scoring with his first home run of the tournament over the right field fence to give the Club Sox a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
"It was a fastball up and in," Martin said of the pitch. "He was supposed to be outside with it, so I think he missed his spot. When they miss the spot, you've got to punish it."
The Club Sox tacked their only other run of the game in the third inning when Jeff Deimling led off with a double and came around to score on an RBI single from Zach Ahlgrim.
Ahlgrim went 3-for-3 at the plate with three singles in the win.
Strike Zone had only one good chance of scoring, which came the second inning, when it loaded the bases with no outs, but a 1-2-3 double play and fly out to right field got the 4-Corners starter Baird out of the jam.
"He just worked down all night. I can't even remember any pitches he missed above the belt," Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey said of Baird. "We had the bases loaded and nobody out and (Ethan Spellbring) hit it hard, but that's just the way it rolls — back to the pitcher. That's just the way the game is sometimes."
Chase Beal, a University of New Mexico commit from Queen Creek, Ariz., took the loss for Strike Zone after allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings.
"It was just two mistakes and two runs. That's it," Morrissey said.
The loss puts Strike Zone in a familiar spot during the city tournament.
A year ago, the four-time Connie Mack World Series hosts lost an early game to Naa'taanii before coming back with victories in a pair of games against Naa'taanii to win the host bid.
Morrissey said he'll use that experience to spur his guys forward through the rest of the week.
"We've been here before," Morrissey said. "It is what it is. You just have to dust yourselves off and come back ready to fight the rest of the weekend."
4-Corners now sits in the driver's seat for the CMWS berth, but head coach Brett Alexander knows his team is still three wins away from its goal.
"That's a good squad, and Chase Beal threw his butt off. We were just fortunate to get to him early," Alexander said. "It's one game in a long tournament. To win it all, you've got to win five or six games. It doesn't matter who we play, we'll bring our hard hats and our lunch pail and get ready to work."
The Club Sox will continue the tournament today against the only other undefeated team left in the bracket, Bayfield, at 8 p.m. at Ricketts Park.
The Sting and Naa'taanii will play in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m.
Strike Zone will have a bye today and find out Saturday's opponent at the conclusion of the two contests.