FARMINGTON — Strike Zone did everything it needed to during a marquee matchup in the first round of the Connie Mack City Tournament, edging the rival 4-Corners ClubSox 4-3 tonight at Ricketts Park.
Strike Zone did all of its damage in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a pair of mistakes from 4-C that resulted in the team’s four runs.
"We want to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes, and they did a good job of it in the fourth inning, especially with (ClubSox) starter (Taed Heydinger) throwing a good game," Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey said. "In games like this, it’s a couple mistakes here and there that make the difference."
With the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth, Andrew Laymon hit a ball to center field that appeared to be a routine fly ball, but 4-C centerfielder Kyle DeWees misread the ball, which dropped behind him and allowed two runs to score on the hit. Two more runs were scored on the next at-bat when 4-C’s shortstop Mikey Hooper couldn’t handle an Austin Ely grounder that bounced off of Hooper’s glove and ended up in the outfield.
"We kind of beat ourselves. They took advantage and got runs that we gave them," 4-C head coach Brycen Campbell said.
The two starting pitchers — Mitchell Parker for Strike Zone and Heydinger for 4-C — dominated the first few innings, giving up just one hit each in three innings.
Parker kept his impressive game intact after the third, not allowing any base runners in the fourth inning.
Parker showed his first sign of slowing down in the fifth, walking Stone Romero to start the inning. After an error put the ClubSox on second and third with no outs, Jasen Herrera hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Romero and broke the Sox’s scoreless drought.
4-C threatened with more runs in the inning, but Drew Gillespie came on in relief of Parker to close out the inning.
"It was a great job from both guys tonight," Morrissey said of Parker and Gillespie. "They went out there and commanded their fastball well and challenged (the ClubSox). It was a great job on both of their parts."
4-C’s Mile Hilton hit a solo home run over the right-field wall in the sixth inning to cut Strike Zone’s lead to 4-2.
DeWees scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to make it 4-3, but Gillespie and Strike Zone got out of the inning before the Sox could do any more damage.
Strike Zone will play the Rivercats at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ricketts Park.
The ClubSox will face Naa’taanii in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Farmington Sports Complex.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Campbell said. “We have to play hard. Every team that’s in the bottom half of the bracket is fighting to extend their season. I expect (Naa’taanii) to show up and give us their best game.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.