Kings split with Knights
It took a game, but the Kofa baseball team was able to get its offense in order in time to salvage the back end of its doubleheader against visiting Phoenix-St. Mary's in both teams' 5A Desert Valley openers Wednesday.
Despite a stellar pitching performance from Tyler Shaddy, the Kings lost the opener 2-1, but they rebounded to win the nightcap 8-3.
"We haven't seen these guys from Phoenix, and we have to adjust," said Kofa catcher Bryan Casey. "But I wouldn't say we're satisfied (with the split)."
After pushing out just five hits, all singles, in the opener, the Kings (4-2, 1-1) knocked Knight starter Lucas Graham out of the box early in the second game, scoring a run in the first inning and then another in the second to go up 2-0. Reliever Garrett Prenovost nearly got St. Mary's (2-2-1, 1-1) out of the second without any additional damage, but Casey connected for a two-run double to put Kofa up 4-0.
That would be plenty for Dombrose, who gave up three runs over five-plus innings to earn the victory. Dombrose set down eight of the first 10 batters he faced, and forced a double play, before running into his only jam in the fourth, when he gave up a two-run homer to shortstop Nick Evans.
Dombrose quickly shook off the homer, though, striking out the next three batters he faced.
"I was very pleased with all our pitching staff," Kofa manager Richy Leon said. "They gave us a chance. Whenever you give up two runs in the first (game) and three in the second, you have to be very pleased. There's nothing more I can ask of the staff."
The Kings scored four runs late to put the game away after St. Mary's had cut the gap to two, 5-3. Christian Garcia scored the second of his two runs on a sixth-inning single by his twin brother, Giovanni, and Brandon Sanchez followed with a double, bringing home Josh Stevenson and Matt Fox.
"We had to battle," Leon said. "We never really got into an offensive groove, but we'll take (the split)."
If Kofa struggled to get in an offensive groove in game two, they were simply baffled by first game starter Juan Carlos Rosales. Rosales allowed just six Kings to reach base, and had them consistently hitting the ball on the ground. Only two of the 21 Kofa outs were recorded on fly balls, and Knights outfielders had just one putout total.
"He was pitching very well," Leon said. "He was mixing speeds, and he kept us off-balance all day. There are guys in the big leagues who make a living doing that."
Shaddy struck out nine Knights over six-plus innings, allowing three hits and two runs, both unearned. During his best stretch, he set down six batters in a row, five by strikeout.
"He did a heck of a job," Casey said. "I'm disappointed in myself and the team that we couldn't score for him. Next time, obviously, we want to help him a little more."
Kofa's lone run in the opener came in the fifth when Oscar Avila singled and eventually scored on a Giovanni Garcia base hit.
Rich Polikoff can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6882.