FARMINGTON — Naa'taanii and SZ Morrissey have had great battles in past years at the Connie Mack City Tournament, and when the two teams met in Round 2 of the tournament Tuesday, it wasn't any different.
After a slow start in the batter's box — mostly as a result of Naa'taanii starting pitcher Taylor Serna's solid performance — SZ Morrissey got its offense rolling in the later innings and picked up a 6-1 win at Ricketts Park.
"They did a great job," SZ Morrissey coach Adam Morrissey said of his team. "(Naa'taanii's) starting pitcher did a really great job through the first few innings, so we just had to keep plugging away out there. We kind of got some stuff rolling later in the game, but my lineup did a great job bearing through it in the first few innings when (Serna) was throwing well."
Naa'taanii jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Cade Guthrie safely touched home plate on a passed ball.
The score remained knotted at 1-0 with SZ Morrissey pitcher Lawrence Mayberry and Serna shutting down the opposing bats.
"Strong defense is really key at this level," Morrissey said. "That's what we really preach over here, and if we can pitch and make the plays, it will give us a good chance to win. Good defense is really a big thing we preach."
In the bottom of the fourth, SZ Morrissey got on the board, tying the game at 1-1 when Austin Ely's line drive squirted out of Naa'taanii shortstop Jesus Chavez's glove and allowed Justin Rowe to advance from third for the run. The dropped ball would have been the third of the inning, and got Naa'taanii out of the jam unscathed.
"The first half of the game, we were playing well, but I think we started pressing," Naa'taanii coach Dineh Benally said. "We want to score a lot of runs — that's what we want to do — and when we aren't getting them, I think we start pressing instead of just letting the game come to us."
In the bottom of the fifth, SZ Morrissey got two more runs across when, with runner on first and second, Matt Knickerbocker laid down a bunt up the third base line. The throw to first for the force was off its mark, and Bryce Washburn and Drew Gillespie came around to give SZ Morrissey a 3-1 lead.
SZ Morrissey blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth.
After Bryce Washburn drew a two-out walk to load the bases, Drew Gillespie ripped an off-speed pitch over the left fielder's head, clearing the bases for a three-RBI double to make it 6-1.
The loss moves Naa'taanii into an elimination game against the Rivercats at 5:30 p.m. today at the Farmington Sports Complex.
SZ Morrissey will see another familiar foe in the 4C-Clubsox, setting up a rematch of last year's City Tournament final, which SZ Morrissey won. SZ Morrissey and the Clubsox will play at 8 p.m. today at Ricketts Park.
Sting stun SZ Scanlan
The Sting bats exploded for 13 runs Tuesday afternoon, pushing the young squad past SZ Scanlan 13-6 in Round 2 of the Connie Mack City Tournament at Ricketts Park.
In the game, eight of the Sting's runs were driven in by their seven-, eight- and nine-hole batters.
"One through nine, everyone is producing, and one guy picks up where the other left off," Sting coach Tim Trotter said. "I think we did a good job of capitalizing on (SZ Scanlan's) mistakes early and staying disciplined at the plate. I think we had a good approach."
SZ Scanlan offense got going quickly, scoring two runs off a Trae Jaqua two-RBI double in the bottom of the first inning.
The Sting responded in the top of the second. With the bases loaded and one out, Spencer Sandoval hit it into the gap in right center. The ball got behind the SZ Scanlan shallow-playing outfield, clearing the bases for a three-RBI double to make it 3-2 Sting.
The Sting added three more runs in the inning — the first on an RBI single from David Saldivar and two more when Dominic Hines doubled into the right field corner, pushing the Sting lead to 6-2.
SZ Scanlan added three runs in the bottom of the inning, but after that the team fell apart.
The Sting put four more runs on the board in the third, highlighted by nine-hole hitter Keaton Christy's two-RBI triple.
Then, after holding SZ Scanlan scoreless in the bottom of the third, the Sting added to their lead in the fourth, tacking on three more runs to take a 13-5 lead.
"It was definitely a lack of focus," SZ Scanlan coach Alex Scanlan said of his team's collapse. "We came out with good focus and energy and looked like we were ready to play, but then we just imploded on ourselves. We couldn't make the routine plays, and you can't do that against any ball club."
The Sting's win gives the team a bye into Thursday's fourth round. Their opponent will be determined after the conclusion of Round 3 tonight.
SZ Scanlan will play the Halos in an elimination game at 3 p.m. today at Ricketts Park.
Clubsox survive scare
The 4C-Clubsox survived a scare from the Rivercats, sneaking by with a 3-2 win in Round 2 of the Connie Mack City Tournament at Ricketts Park on Tuesday night.
Clubsox coach Brett Alexander said the 3-2 decision was a bit closer than he hoped, but he expected nothing less than a battle from the Rivercats.
"That's one of the hottest, scariest teams in the tournament," Alexander said. "That's a good ball club. We knew coming into this it was going to be a fight. They play the game the right way, they do all the little things, they're coached extremely well and they don't make the big mistakes that the younger teams do. I'd put them against any team in this league, and it's going to be a fight."
The Clubsox struck first with Jacob Turcotte scoring on a Rivercats error to make it 1-0 in the middle of the second.
The Rivercats tied it up after Orlan Warren led the inning off with double, then came around to score on a Clubsox error. Later in the inning, the Rivercats took a 2-1 lead after another Clubsox error.
The Clubsox tied it up in the top of the fifth after an RBI single from Jeff Deimling scored Chris Moore.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Rivercats had a chance to break the 2-2 tie after Nate Swarts drew a walk and then stole second and third with only one out on the board. But after Warren drew a walk, he was caught stealing, and Clubsox relief pitcher Jordan Benfield struck out Chandler Duvall to get out of the inning.
"I think the few mistakes that we did make were base running errors," Rivercats coach Clay Foster said. "If I'm going to stay positive about that, it's that we were trying to be aggressive. It's unfortunate that happened. In the summer, we want them to be aggressive but under control, and I don't think we were quite under control."
In the top of the seventh, Phil Archuleta got things going for the Clubsox with a double down the left-field line and then came around to score on another RBI single from Deimling to give the Clubsox a 3-2 lead.
"That's Jeff Deimling. I don't think there's a better, more clutch hitter in this league, maybe in the state," Alexander said. "And he's a great kid. You like to see great kids do good things. He always comes up in the big situations, and he's just a clutch kid."
The win moves the Clubsox on to play SZ Morrissey at 8 p.m. today at Ricketts Park.
The Rivercats will play an elimination game against Naa'taanii at 5:30 p.m. today at the Farmington Sports Complex.