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Valdez strikes out 11 of 12 batters in Kofa win
For the first four innings, Kofa's Miguel Rosas was bored out of his mind in center field.
With the way Kofa senior Matthew Valdez was pitching, Rosas and the other King fielders could have stayed in the dugout.
Valdez dominated on the mound to help Kofa to a 6-2 win over Blythe-Palo Verde in the final game of the Shamrock Baseball Classic on Saturday at Yuma Catholic.
The senior right-hander pitched four perfect innings and struck out 11 — with the only non-strike out coming from a bunt from the Yellowjackets' No. 9 hitter in the third inning, which Valdez simply lobbed to first base.
“I was bored out there. I was hoping they would hit a fly ball or something,” Rosas said. “It's good for the pitcher but man, it's boring out there.”
“He's probably our ace of the team. He was pretty filthy today,” said Kofa first baseman Manny Camacho, who was the only other person to touch the ball other than Valdez and catcher Martin Gomez when Valdez tossed the bunted ball his way.
Camacho helped out at the plate going 2 for 3 with a double and a pair of RBIs and junior Josh Morales went 2 for 2 with two RBIs. The Kings jumped out in the first when Camacho hit an RBI double to left field, Morales hit a two-run single and Gomez smacked an RBI sacrifice fly to right for the 4-0 lead.
And with the way Valdez was pitching, four runs was more than enough.
He breezed past the first eight hitters with the only worry being when he had a full-count on Sam Taylor, Palo Verde's No. 7 hitter.
“He's the best guy we've seen all year,” Palo Verde coach Mike Booth said. “His accuracy — he can throw any pitch for a strike. Not only for a strike, but spot it up.”
The Yellowjackets finally broke the strikeout streak when Jake Richards laid a bunt down the first-base line that Valdez could have scooped up and touched first base but decided to toss it to Camacho.
“I kind of wanted them to challenge me, but it's still an out so I wasn't going to complain,” Valdez said of the bunt.
In the fourth, Valdez ran a full count to sophomore Brandon Johnson before striking him — and the side — out and ending his day.
“You know that if he's going to be on, he's going to be a shutdown guy like today,” Kofa coach Richy Leon said.
“It's coach's decision and I'll do whatever he decides because it's what's right for the team,” Valdez said about being taken out after four innings.
With the way Valdez (1-1) was pitching, seeing him jog out to play shortstop in the following inning gave a momentum boost to the Yellowjackets, who scored their two runs in the fifth off junior George Cordova.
“Our guys were pretty hyped up,” Booth said about Valdez being removed from the mound.
“We knew (Valdez) was around 50 pitches and that's where we wanted him to be in order to bounce back next week,” Leon said. “We're not going to have him on the mound for every game, so we're going to have to learn how to be competitive without him and Manny on the mound.”
Rosas pitched a scoreless sixth inning to secure the win for Kofa, which finished 2-2 in the tournament having lost 8-5 to El Centro-Central earlier in the day.
“A win is still good but I think we're still far from where we can be,” Leon said about the Kings, who host Gila Ridge on Thursday and Cibola on Friday. “We're going to have three days to look at it and we're going to have to be a lot better to compete later next week”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.