San Luis junior Miguel Valenzuela knew he just had to put the ball in play.
It turned out a soft ground ball to second base was more than enough.
With the game tied in the bottom of the 11th inning, Valenzuela hit a bases-loaded dribbler to Cibola second baseman Tim Frost, whose throw home was off and the Sidewinders came away with an important 2-1 victory Wednesday at San Luis.
“I saw his swing and all he wanted to do was put the ball in play,” San Luis coach Cesar Castillo said of Valenzuela's one-out, two-strike ground ball. “A soft ball ground ball to the second baseman but you put the pressure on. This is high school baseball, so you never know what's going to happen.”
“We're just disappointed that we didn't execute when we had opportunities,” Cibola coach Duane Evans said. “Defensively, we played well and had good pitching and in games like this, it's the little things that are going to get you across and we just didn't execute well.”
San Luis junior Jorge Duarte made the mad dash home from third base and slid in while Frost's throw to catcher Danny Flores was in the dirt. The final run of the game was set up when Duarte hit a leadoff triple to left field — ignoring Castillo's call to hold up at second base.
Cibola reliever Zebastian Valenzuela intentionally walked Alejandro Aguilar and Alexander Bazua to load the bases with no outs. Zebastian Valenzuela, who picked up the loss in 3-2/3 innings of relief, struck out Arturo Ramirez and had Miguel Valenzuela on the ropes with two strikes before the Sidewinder put it in play.
San Luis sophomore reliever Fernando Fimbres picked up his second win of the year with two perfect innings of work. Both starting pitchers threw the ball well and kept their teams in the game. Sidewinder sophomore Alexander Bazua pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven on 108 pitches, and Cibola junior Adan Vega threw 6-2/3 innings, also allowing one run on five hits in the no decision. Aguilar threw two innings of relief for the Sidewinders, giving up one hit.
“Alexander Bazua threw a hell of a ballgame and stuck with it,” Castillo said. “Our two relievers — those three guys are the guys we've gone the whole year with. Alexander gave us more than we expected today.”
The Sidewinders (11-5) threatened to score in the bottom of the 10th after Jesus Urquides and David Montoya hit back-to-back singles with one out. However, despite having the top of the lineup at the plate, Zebastian Valenzuela struck out Fimbres and Jonathan Bazua to end the threat.
One cause of concern, with the game nearing three hours, was the setting sun at the San Luis field, which doesn't have lights. Castillo said he was worried that the game might end up being postponed because of darkness.
For San Luis, which beat Gila Ridge 2-1 in 11 innings on April 1, it's a much-needed win, considering it came into the game ranked No. 25 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Power Points — with 24 teams making the state tournament. While Cibola (11-5) came into the game No. 18 — which would give them a home playoff game in the first round — the Raiders don't exactly feel positive of a guaranteed spot in the postseason with the ever-changing power points.
“For us, every game is a new beginning. We need to win some games,” Evans said. “In my feelings, we've been down at the end too many times, things roll and things happen you can't explain. You don't know with that power point system — you could have a team win their last game and jump five spots.”
Both schools have two games left in the regular season. They play each other at 4 p.m. Monday — the last game for the Raiders, who play Yuma High on Friday, and the Sidewinders end the season playing at Cesar Chavez on Tuesday. Whatever ends up happening, Castillo feels his Sidewinders are good enough to get a shot at the playoffs.
“This team deserves a chance to get in,” Castillo said. “Obviously we have two games left, but this is the best team I've ever been a part of — as far as their attitude, their commitment. Hands down, best bunch of kids I've been a part of.”