Mesa Red Mountain’s baseball team saw its fielding problems disappear. But not its losing streak.
The Mountain Lions witnessed Phoenix Desert Vista’s penchant for 10-run rallies in the seventh inning Tuesday and dropped an 11-5 decision to the visiting Thunder.
“We had some leads in games early in the season and lost them,” Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich said. “We’ve learned from that a little bit. We also have learned to keep fighting. It’s not about winning, but to keep fighting.”
Red Mountain sophomore right-hander Cole Gleason had stymied Desert Vista on a run and four hits through the first six innings and held a 5-1 lead going to the seventh. A pinch-hit single by Chandler Ticknor, followed by an infield hit by Jaycob Brugman gave Desert Vista hope. A flyout stopped the momentum briefly, but Gleason then issued a four-pitch walk to Cole Pembroke to load the bases.
That brought cleanup hitter Ryan Box to the plate and he got a pitch in the middle of the plate and belted it far off the left-field fence for a grand slam to tie the game.
“We didn’t make an error today, but the walk hurt,” Red Mountain coach Jason Grantham said. “We’re just snakebit late in games right now. They’ll come a day we’ll get past it.”
Desert Vista unloaded on reliever Blake Dunham for five hits and six runs after Box’s slam. Shaun Chase, Dereck Grey, Brugman and Wehrli (two) collected the last six runs of the Thunder’s second 10-run seventh inning in less than a week.
Red Mountain has dropped seven games in a row and is 5-9. Desert Vista has gone the other way. The Thunder (10-3) were unbeaten in five games in last week’s East Valley-Fiesta Region Tournament and have won their last seven games.
“Gleason did a great job against us,” Luketich said. “He changed speeds and at times came after us. There’s something to be learned by that performance if you’re a pitcher.”
Red Mountain was led offensively by Tyler Grant, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles. Dylan Elgin and Mark Jarrett added two hits each and catcher Craig Frum hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to give the Mountain Lions what looked to be plenty of cushion (5-1 lead) heading to the final inning.