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Cibola strikes late, then has tables turned
It went down to the wire in each of Cibola's tournament games Friday, with the Raiders splitting the decisions on the second day of the Cibola Baseball Invitational at Desert Sun Stadium.
In the afternoon contest, the Raiders scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to down Las Vegas High 5-4, but got a taste of their own medicine in the nightcap as Phoenix-St. Mary's tallied a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to hand Cibola a 2-1 defeat.
The loss was the first of the tournament for Cibola (5-3), but the Raiders won their pool and will meet Las Vegas-Durango in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. today at the Ray Kroc Memorial Baseball Complex. With a win, Cibola will play at 6:30 p.m. for the tournament title, which it won last year.
"This was a real good win for us. We kept chipping away and chipping away until we finally got there," Cibola coach Duane Evans said of the victory over Las Vegas.
Cibola trailed 4-1 after two innings, but got a two-run homer from catcher Cale Thompson in the fifth and trailed by just one run entering the final frame. The Raiders dodged a huge bullet in the top of the seventh when Las Vegas (1-2) loaded the bases with one out. But Alex Memo induced an inning-ending double play to keep Cibola within striking distance.
From there the Raiders offense took control.
Thompson led off with a ground-rule double and Adrian Preciado reached on an error by Wildcats second baseman Bryan Renfro to set the table for the top of the order. Larsen Jones lined the first pitch he saw into left field, bringing around pinch-runner Adrian Castro. Right fielder David Barrios, who was 0-for-3 at that point, came up next, and with the outfield drawn in dropped a single over their heads for the game-winner.
"I knew I had to come through there," Barrios said afterward. "I'd been in a slump and just wanted to put the ball in play."
Alex Meno (1-0) earned the victory, pitching two inning of scoreless relief, while Eugene Hamilton (0-1) took the loss for Las Vegas.
Hamilton was pitching for the first time this season and coasted through the first four innings, allowing just two hits. But Kyle Moore led off the fifth with a single and then Thompson - after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches - launched a curveball over the left-field fence.
"(Thompson) really lit a fire in that team," Las Vegas coach Sam Thomas said.
Jose Flores went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Jones was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Cibola.
Las Vegas, which lost in its opponent's last at-bat twice in a span of three hours Friday, was led by Terrance Viernes (3-for-4) and Josh Chase (3-for-4). Earlier, the Wildcats fell to El Centro 7-6.