A bad hop sent a baseball smashing into Riley Unroe’s face early in Tuesday afternoon’s game against Gilbert, causing a temporary stoppage in play.
That was about the only thing slowing him down.
Desert Ridge’s star shortstop went 3-for-4 with a homer, two runs scored and two RBIs at the plate, tossed two perfect frames for the save and gunned a runner out at home on a relay throw to lift the No. 6 Jaguars over No. 5 Gilbert, 9-5, in a Division I power points matchup at Gilbert.
Unroe’s mammoth solo shot to right field in the top of the sixth broke a 5-5 tie. A three-run double by Skyler Cohn in the top of the seventh gave the Jaguars breathing room and Unroe mowed down three straight batters to end the contest.
“He’s a special kid,” Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera said.
It was only Unroe’s second pitching appearance of the season but he struck out three Gilbert batters in his two innings with the use of an electric fastball.
“He could be a front-line starter, but it’s hard to take your shortstop out,” Herrera said.
Gilbert (11-4) was cruising along for the first half of the game, as a Justin LaForce two-run homer in the second put the Tigers ahead 4-0. However, they committed five errors in the contest and had a pair of fourth-inning base-running blunders which stunted the momentum.
Manny Tapia hit a one-out double in that inning with Gilbert still holding a 5-3 lead, but Zach Rehmer was easily thrown out at home by Unroe on the relay. Moments later, Tapia tried to advance to third on a ball in the dirt but was also tagged out in plenty of time.
Dustin Peterson finished 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI but had a potential two-run homer robbed for the first out of the fifth inning. The Tigers would go down in order the rest of the way.
Gilbert had won 10 straight games heading into this contest.
Desert Ridge (12-5) scored eight unanswered runs after falling behind 5-1 through three innings.
“We’re a tough team,” Unroe said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get that ‘W’.”