Jake Barrett didn’t do it all for Mesa Desert Ridge in its 5A nonregion battle with Gilbert Highland on Wednesday afternoon. He came close, but according to coach Pat Herrera he’s trying to do less.
Barrett pitched a complete game and pounded a pair of solo homers, leading the unbeaten Jaguars to a 6-3 victory over the host Hawks.
Barrett, a 6-foot-4 junior right-hander, homered in the third and sixth innings to get himself the lead for good on the first and breathing room on the second. Struggling a bit in the seventh when he surrendered two runs and three hits, Barrett finished with nine strikeouts. He walked two and allowed six hits.
“What we’re trying to get Jake to do is finish,” Herrera said. “He’s learning to pitch to contact more, and we hope that’s going to lead to lower pitch counts. We want him to use the defense more.”
Desert Ridge (9-0) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Travis Flores off Highland junior lefty James Pazos.
That lead was short-lived as Highland tied it on one swing of the bat by Hawks third baseman Colton Zebe, who homered over the center-field fence.
It took an opposite-field homer by Barrett to put Desert Ridge ahead to stay, 2-1, in the third. With the score staying that way to the bottom of the fifth, Barrett got the play he needed in the bottom of the fifth in the form of a 5-4-3 double play.
Barrett hit a batter and walked one to make trouble for himself. He escaped the jam when second baseman D.W. Warner made a nice catch on a low throw to second and strong pivot to complete the double play on Highland leadoff hitter Jaime Garrido.
The 2-1 lead expanded to 4-1 in the top of the sixth when Barrett lined his second long ball off the batter’s eye in center field. Teammate Steven Bier’s homer one out later capped the scoring off Pazos.
Pazos, just rounding into pitching shape after getting over a staph infection from wrestling season, threw six innings and gave up five hits. He fanned three and walked two.
Highland dropped to 1-6 on the season. The Hawks were led at the plate by Zebe with two hits.