Mesquite baseball coach Jeff Holland is used to tight games this season so it was no surprise his Wildcats engaged in another such contest on Monday afternoon.
Mesquite managed only five hits — three of them infield hits — but that final one was good enough to plate the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth in the Wildcats 3-2 victory over visiting Sandra Day O'Connor.
Mesquite third baseman Josh Webster looped a two-out hit — just over reliever Nicko Ortega's head that landed softly on the infield grass behind the mound as middle infielders converged with no play. It scored Nick Daley, who doubled to open the inning, from third.
Webster had a full day with the plusses bettering the minuses. Webster started a 5-4-3 double play in the first, made two do-or-die barehand plays to first to nip runners on bunt attempts and he made an error in the sixth that figured in SDO's two-run rally that tied the game at the time. He also reached on a error in the second, but was doubled off second when he strayed too far on liner to center field.
“We're in one-run games all the time,” Holland said. “It was nice to get one. That ball wasn't hit well, but at this point,we'll take any win.”
Sandra Day O'Connor (18-6 overall, 10-4 power-ranking games) was the only team in last week's Division I top-10 to escape without a loss. The Eagles, in fact, moved up from ninth to fourth. Mesquite (16-10, 10-6) bowed twice a week ago and fell out of the top-10 when the latest rankings appeared Monday morning. Mesquite dropped from seventh to 12th.
The game was well-pitched on both sides. Sandra Day O'Connor had to go with sophomore Colby Wyatt as staff ace Cameron Ming was back home battling illness. Wyatt went five innings. He allowed three hits, one walk and two runs (both unearned). His opponent was Mesquite senior James Harrington, who has found a special groove of late. Harrington allowed four hits, fanned six and both runs he allowed were unearned. Harrington is 6-0 for the year with an ERA right around 3.00.
“He's figured it out the last two times out,” Holland said. “He's not throwing to guns or scouts. He's been dealing. He beat Mountain Pointe last week (3-2), and pitched his butt off today.”
Mesquite scored one run in the fourth and one in the fifth. A passed ball plated the fourth-inning run and a wild pitch helped advance Harrington, who reached on an infield hit and scored the run. A sacrifice fly by Cole Valletta in the fifth brought home the second run. The runner that scored reached on a pair of outfield errors.
SDO's only extra-base hit scored its two runs. It was a long double to left by clean-up hitter Degan Harte that nearly was a ground-rule double and would have cost the Eagles a run had it bounced over the fence.
“I think every run in this one scored because of a misplay, a walk or something,” SDO coach Jeff Baumgartner said. “(Wyatt) pitched well. The pitching was good enough to win. We just have to score a few more runs.”