In a matchup between the teams ranked 1-2 in power points, the game lived up to its billing.
Mesa Red Mountain jumped out to an early lead but Mesa Mountain View stormed back by scoring seven unanswered runs and posted a 7-5 win Wednesday night in a 5A-I East Valley Region game at Hohokam Park in Mesa. Six of the seven Mountain View runs came with two outs.
"That's clutch," Toros coach Mike Thiel said, "These are kids that want to win and they have put in the work to be successful."
Red Mountain piled up a 4-0 lead after the first two innings thanks to singles by Mark Jarrett, Dean Espy and Derek Mendoza and a sacrifice fly from Mickey Caldwell.
Then the Toros (20-2, 3-0 East Valley Region) saw red and scored the next seven runs. Two of them came in the third inning before the big fourth inning proved to be decisive.
In the fourth, the Toros got a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Russ Tuemmeler drew a walk to get the Toros within a run at 4-3.
After a force out at home for the second out, the bases were loaded for second baseman Tim Willsey, who dumped a bloop single to right field which brought in Tuemmeler and Matt Shannon and put the Toros up 5-4.
Willsey finished the night 3-for-4 with three singles and drove in three runs with a pair of two-out hits.
"Every time you get one of those (two-out hits) you pat yourself on the back," Willsey said, "I guess I got my step down early and I jumped on him early in the count."
Shane Urban followed with a double to center that brought Willsey and Nic Nedrow home and pushed the lead to 7-4.
Urban finished 2-for-4 and drove in three runs of his own, all with two outs.
"We got a leadoff walk, a bunt and we started to come up with big hits," Thiel said about the rally, "We got a little bit of momentum and the kids were confident they could hit (Red Mountain pitcher Mark) Hawkenson's fastball and we got going."
Mendoza cut into the lead with a fourth-inning RBI single to bring Red Mountain (15-7, 2-1) back within two runs. The Mountain Lions couldn't get any closer as their bats went cold over the final three innings.
The Toros, who currently sit atop the 5A-I power rankings, credit their team-first philosophy with getting them off to the fast start this season.
"20-2 is a great job. We don't have superstars, a D-1 player or anyone who will get drafted," Thiel said, "but we have a bunch of guys with heart, work ethic and character who want to be good."
The two teams go head-to-head again on April 22, also at Hohokam Park, with plenty on the line.
"We know they're going to come back," Thiel said, "The regional championship could be on the line but we have to take care of business against other teams first."