Mesa Red Mountain’s baseball team started the season fast, but has endured its share of problems defensively and pitching for a lengthy stretch.
Neither of those facets was an issue Wednesday afternoon as the Mountain Lions battled 5A East Valley Region rival Mesa Mountain View for first place in the region. The result was a nearly flawless effort as Red Mountain handed Mountain View an 8-3 loss at Hohokam Park.
Senior Colten Sheley (3-2) pitched six strong innings and first baseman Justin Yett drove in three runs and provided superb defense to help Red Mountain take first place alone in the region. Red Mountain issued only two walks in the game and did not commit an error.
“He gave us the performance we needed out of him,” Red Mountain coach Jason Grantham said. “When he stays away from walks and keeps the ball down he can tough out there.”
Sheley allowed six hits in six innings and two runs. After giving up three consecutive singles in the first inning with two outs to allowed Mountain View (13-9, 2-1 EVR) to take a 1-0 lead, he shut down the Toros while their defense helped jump-start Red Mountain’s offense.
A five-run third fourth inning — comprised of four Red Mountain hits and three of Mountain View’s six errors on the day — put the Mountain Lions (10-12, 3-0) on top to stay. Run-scoring hits by Mickey Caldwell, Yett and Mark Jarrett were the key blows that dampened a good start by Toros right-hander Trent Stapley. Stapley gave up just one hit in the first three innings.
Another error and two more hits in the fifth were part of a three-run rally by Red Mountain the fifth. Yett delivered the key hit — a two-run double to left center. Yett isn’t the most feared hitter in the Mountain Lions lineup, but plays within himself.
“I know my role,” Yett said. “I just try to execute when I can. I got a couple pitches that were elevated and went with them.”
Grantham was not only appreciative of Yett’s offensive contribution, but his glove work besides.
“He picked us up at least four times digging balls out on throws,” Grantham said. “He really helped get us a big double play in the fourth inning after we had gone up 5-1.”
Stapley drove in two of Mountain View’s three runs with a single and ground out. Gus Monteverde had two doubles and an RBI for the Toros.
Red Mountain resumes region play on Friday against Mesa High while Mountain View is back in action Friday at Hohokam Park against Mesa Dobson.