Cody Erickson, the clean-up hitter, might not be particularly enthused with the new bat restrictions in high school baseball.
Cody Erickson, the pitcher, has no such qualms.
Desert Ridge had a tough time squaring up balls against the junior right-hander and Desert Mountain went on to a 6-3 victory in the championship game of the Scottsdale Invitational on Saturday at Desert Mountain.
Erickson picked up the win by allowing six hits and three runs - two earned - in 5 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking none. A new rule was put in place this season limiting a bat’s trampoline effect, and Erickson said it gives him a different mentality on the mound.
“When I get 3-1, I know I can just throw it down the middle,” Erickson said. “It’s usually not going to be a home run (any more). It’s going to be a fly ball, an out. It’s a lot different from last year.”
Desert Mountain coach Bryan Rice said his pitchers have never been afraid to challenge hitters, but likes that cheap hits are a thing of the past.
“It definitely helps when you can make a good pitch and be rewarded for it,” Rice said. “You could make a good pitch before and they were hitting doubles in the gap. That’s not real baseball.”
Desert Ridge scored in the top of the first inning on a passed ball, but the Wolves came back in the bottom of the inning to get three runs for a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Desert Ridge closed to within 4-3 by scoring two runs in the fifth inning, but again the Wolves answered with one run apiece in the fifth and sixth.
The Jaguars loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh inning, but Alonzo Palacios struck out and Dominic Maxie grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Keaton Boysen picked up the save by pitching 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Desert Mountain went 5-1 in the tournament, winning twice against Desert Ridge and once each against Chaparral, Saguaro and Notre Dame. Its only loss was to Gilbert.
The Wolves were in 5A Division II last season, but a reconfiguration of the state tournaments has them in the top division, where they could see many of these teams again in the postseason.
“This is good just for confidence,” Rice said. “We’re just to trying to find what everyone can do… so we can be ready for power point games.”