Catalina Foothills High School mercy-ruled its opponent in the opening round of the Tucson Conquistadores Lancer Baseball Classic and appeared on a fast track to the tournament championship.
But its Sonoran Region archrival, Canyon del Oro, stepped in the way once again – and then went on to win the prestigious event.
Twenty-two teams showed up for this year’s event at Kino Sports Complex, including squads from Oklahoma, California, and Colorado. The tournament roster included some of the better high schools teams from Southern Arizona, such as Sunnyside HS and Salpointe Catholic in 5A and Canyon del Oro and Nogales HS in 4A.
Foothills beat Mountain View HS, 11-1 in five innings, to get started and rolled through the tournament, right up to the semi-final game, where they met up with Canyon del Oro. Foothills had 11 hits, including a grand slam by Paul Nakazato, to open tournament play. But it was a different story in the semi match-up with CDO.
The Dorados piled up runs in the third and fifth innings enroute to an 8-1 win over Foothills, earning a shot at the title game against Yacaipa HS, a school that had driven in from east of Los Angeles.
CDO senior, Bubba Metz, pitched a control game, scattering eight hits and giving up no walks.
The offense was provided by the catcher, Cory Fujimoto, who tripled in the third to help the Dorados to a 4-0 lead, and Christian Muscarello, who went 3-for-3 with a double.
In the championship game against Yucaipa, CDO showed why they are undefeated this season (14-0) and the defending 4A-I state champs.
The Dorados jumped on Yucaipa’s ace hurler, Taijuan Walker, right off the bat, scoring three runs in the first and then sending Walker to play third base after another four runs in the second inning. Sebastian Maggaddino and Ryan Cota each doubled, and Fujimoto tripled, to help seal Walker’s fate.
Walker is a 6’5″ pro prospect with a 94 mph fastball and an 85 mph slider. He has reportedly attracted the interest of a dozen major league teams.
Unfortunately, scouts from some of those teams were on hand for the game.
But those that followed Walker didn’t fare much better. Yucaipa threw a total of seven pitchers at CDO before the game was over.
On the CDO side, senior Luke Parish-Ward struck out nine and walked three batters. The left-hander, who is heading for Eastern Arizona College, threw a complete game and had a no-hitter going through the first five innings.
At the plate, the Dorados had six players that made it to the batter’s box five times each. Senior outfielder Ryan Cota had the big stick, punching out three doubles and two RBIs, while Cota and Ryan Gerber each went 3-for-5.
The Dorados won’t get any power points for their Classic wins, since the AIA doesn’t recognize participation in this kind of tournament play.
But they certainly made a point with their bats.