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Lopez shuts down Brawley, Hawks win 5-1
BHS 0001000— 1-4-2
GR 130100X— 5-6-0
2B: Gila Ridge: Lopez 2 (3) Brawley: Sanchez RBI: Gila Ridge: Lopez 2 (6), Johnson (8), Nubes (3) SB: Gila Ridge: Nubes WP: Lopez (2-0) LP: Ashurst (0-1)
With his curveball not working, Gila Ridge starting pitcher Irving Lopez had to rely on his fastball and change-up on Saturday afternoon.
Even with the vanilla combination, the senior shut down Brawley and the Hawks picked up a 5-1 win over the Wildcats.
Lopez, who was also 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, improved to 2-0 on the mound this season after scattering four hits over six innings and striking out five.
“His breaking ball wasn't breaking early — and all day, really — but he's a competitor,” Gila Ridge coach Greg Osowski said of Lopez. “He can go out and put a one up on the visitor's side.”
“I was just trying to keep the ball down and let my defense work. I trust them,” Lopez said. “Today I was just going with the fastball and change-up. (My curveball) wasn't breaking at all.”
The win, which was a bit of revenge for the Wildcats beating the Hawks 5-2 and 12-2 last season, improves Gila Ridge to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Point games.
Lopez also picked up the win when he pitched five innings and struck out eight in an 11-5 win over North Canyon in the opening game of the season.
Gila Ridge was in control of the game the entire way — scoring three runs in the second inning to boost its early lead to 4-0.
Senior Gus Nubes, who was in the starting lineup because junior center fielder Bobby Mena was out of town, took advantage by going 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs as the leadoff hitter.
“He's an important part,” Osowski said of Nubes. “If he comes out and works hard for us everyday, he's going to be contributing for us in a lot of ways. He runs well and plays good defense and right now he's putting the bat on the ball.”
With Lopez pitching well early — he retired the first eight Brawley batters — Nubes opened the bottom of the first by legging out an infield single that bounced off Wildcat starting pitcher Richard Ashurst. Two batters later, Lopez hit a double to deep left-center for the first run of the game.
Brawley shot itself in the foot in the bottom of the second when junior Victor Castro drew a walk and senior Raider Simpson singled to right field. Gila Ridge senior Zach Taylor then laid down a sacrifice bunt down the right side, but Wildcat first baseman Lionel Gonzalez's throw sailed away, allowing Castro to score and setting Simpson up to score when Nubes followed with a sacrifice fly to right.
Three batters later, Hawk senior Hayato Johnson appeared to get hit by the pitch for the second straight at-bat but the base umpire ruled Johnson dipped his elbow into the pitch and sent the senior back to the plate.
Johnson responded by hitting an RBI single up the middle.
“I didn't (lean my elbow in), that's just where I stand,” Johnson said. “It's kind of frustrating at first but when you get another chance you really want to take advantage of it and do your job.”
The only inning Lopez really struggled was the fourth, when he allowed a one-out single to Alan Mamer, a double to Jason Sanchez and allowed Mamer to score on a passed ball. However, he made up for it by striking out the following two batters and hitting a deep RBI double to right field to score Nubes in the bottom of the fourth.
Junior Marco Jaime pitched a scoreless seventh inning when Osowski pulled Lopez after 78 pitches.
“He's was getting up there and was getting a little tired,” Osowski said. “And that's about the fourth or fifth time we've had Marco throw the last one so we're grooming him a little bit to see if he's able to do that for us.”