FARMINGTON — The Rivercats entered Connie Mack city league play with the goal of preparing for next year’s high school baseball season. That’s still the main goal, but now the squad is one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the Connie Mack City Tournament after knocking off perennial power Strike Zone 5-3 tonight at Ricketts Park.
“We just have to get better. We’re here to get better,” Rivercats head coach Mike McGaha said. “Obviously, that was fun, and it would really be like a dream come true if a high school team won the City Tournament, but for us, it’s a summer league game — they’re like cage bombs.”
Leading the Rivercats to victory was Cody McGaha, who finished the game with two singles, two runs batted in and one run scored, as well as earning the win on the mound.
Cody McGaha moved from shortstop to pitcher in the bottom of the third, taking over with the bases loaded and two outs, but he got Strike Zone’s Zac Van Duran to ground out on the first pitch to end the inning.
McGaha went on to finish the game, giving up one hit while walking three and hitting one batter.
“He was the freshest arm we had,” Mike McGaha said of his son. “He didn’t throw at all during the weekend and didn’t throw (Monday). He was the freshest guy on the roster. It had nothing to do with a plan or anything like that. He was just the next guy up.”
After leaving the bases juiced in the third, Strike Zone’s intensity dropped off, and the team struggled to find any rhythm the rest of the way.
“(The Rivercats) beat us. We weren’t ready to play, and they did what they were supposed to,” Strike Zone coach Adam Morrissey said.
But the lead didn’t last long. With two outs in the top of the second, Dalton Martin dropped a single into left field to drive in two runs.
Strike Zone struck first, getting one run when Logan Klunder drove in a run with a double off the wall in left-center during the bottom of the first inning.
Strike Zone retook the lead in the bottom of the third after Rivercats’ pitcher Brandon Montoya struggled to find the strike zone, walking three batters and hitting another. Two of the walks came with two outs and the bases loaded to give Strike Zone a 3-2 advantage.
The Rivercats pulled even in the top of the fifth when Elijah Gamboa scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-3. The Rivercats weren’t done in the inning. With two away and runners on second and third, Cody McGaha singled to right field, bringing both runners in to give the Rivercats a 5-3 lead.
“First pitch was ball one. I knew I had to be aggressive, and having a 1-0 count is the best pitch you’ll get,” Cody McGaha said of the at-bat.
The Rivercats threatened to add to their lead in the fifth, working the bases loaded, but Brendan Anderson struck out looking to end the inning.
Neither team had more than one base runner the rest of the game.
The Rivercats will have a bye in the third round of the tourney, and their next opponent has not been determined.
Strike Zone will play the KC Storm in an elimination game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Farmington Sports Complex.
“You can’t be fake. You can’t show up and think you have the game won already. Every day, you have to prepare to win, and we didn’t prepare to win (Tuesday),” Morrissey said. “We have our backs against the wall now, and we’re going to find out if we’re as good as we think we are.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.