O’Connor gets back at Mountain Ridge at GCU

Mountain Ridge head coach Artie Cox talks with his infield while their pitcher warms up during a game against Sandra Day O'Connor on Friday, April 20, 2018 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

Friday night’s sequel at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix definitely did not live up to the original.

Thursday night, Brazell Field was electrified as top 10 Major League Baseball draft prospects Mathew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman faced of in front of hundreds of fans and scouts. Liberatore struck out 13 in Mountain Ridge’s 2-1 win against neighborhood rival O’Connor.

Friday, things got sideways for the Mountain Lions in the second inning. The Eagles jumped on them with both feet in a 13-0 thrashing in five innings.

“We got after it tonight. We had a good game plan. I think last night we were a little frt, but we took advantage of it.”ustrated,” O’Connor coach Jeff Baumgartner said. “We were fortunate that they struggled a bi

Junior pitcher Zach Martinez – a recent transfer from Joy Christian – had a rough introduction to this Deer Valley district feud. He hit a batter in the top of the first inning but escaped trailing 1-0.

Senior Jake Vesecky led off the second with a single. Then junior Amari Bartee mishit a bunt attempt, but it popped straight up and low, dropping between home and third. Vesecky reached third and Bartee second off a wild throw to first.

Vesecky scored on a wild pitch, then Martinez hit three of the next four batters – and walked the fourth. Gorman and sophomore Greg Bozinovich were hit with the bases loaded.

“We’ll learn from it. It’s a good wake up call for us, coming off a big win last night. We were trying to keep them up for this one but we had a bit of the letdown. Mountain Ridge coach Artie Cox said.

Junior Mason Piert came on in relief but O’Connor (17-9 overall, 13-5 regular season) kept rolling. Senior Zak Elms smacked a two-RBI double to the left field corner.

Another Eagles run came home on a wild pitch and Vesecky came back up and finished the seven-run second with the RBI single.

Mountain Ridge (16-9-1, 12-5) picked up four hits but could not put pressure on senior pitcher Mitchell DeCovich.

Bozinovich drove in two in the third and sophomore Colton Kucera added a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 11-0 in the third inning.

Two more Eagles scored in the seventh. O’Connor dropped from #6 to #10 in the 6A rankings after Thursday’s loss and needed to win this to have a chance to earn a top eight spot and play-in round bye.

“It’s 6A baseball. Teams that are #15 and #16 are good. I thought Perry was one of the best teams we’ve seen. Everybody’s kind of up and down,” Baumgatner said.

Mountain Ridge came in at #5 and should remain in the top eight, as #7 Phoenix Pinnacle and #8 Chandler Hamilton also lost Friday. The Mountain Lions have a chance to lock down a bye with a win Monday at Phoenix Horizon.

Before Friday the Mountain Lions had stacked four huge wins – a sweep of Pinnacle, Hamilton and Thursday against O’Connor – to leap from #14 to #5.

“We can see we can play with anybody now. We’ll work on a couple things that went wrong today,” Cox said. “It’s really important (to get a bye) because it sets up your pitching. If we come out Monday and win, I think we’ll stick in the top eight. Our destiny is in our own hands.”

Sandra Day O’Connor’s Barrett Skaugrud scores on a passed ball against Mountain Ridge on Friday, April 20, 2018 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.