Yuma pitcher shines for Calexico
In the first of two games of the Arizona Winter League to be played under the lights, Calexico used a pair of big innings to comfortably beat Team Canada 10-3 at Desert Sun Stadium on Saturday night.
Starting pitcher and Yuma native James Kuzniak was excellent on the mound for the Outlaws, scattering four hits over five innings while keeping Team Canada off the scoreboard.
“This is my fifth AWL, so it's just another game,” said Kuzniak. “(Calexico coach) Mike (Marshall) told me we didn't have a lot of arms left, so I wanted to go throw strikes.”
Kuzniak only allowed one walk while striking out two.
The Outlaws scored four runs in both the third and seventh innings and added two in the sixth to provide the running support to give Kuzniak the win.
LJ Watson went 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBIs for the Outlaws, who benefited from 19 walks by the Team Canada pitchers. First baseman Jeff Hutton went 3 for 3 with an RBI for Team Canada in a losing effort.
Team Canada starting pitcher Dan Maurer led off the top of the third by walking Calexico second baseman Bradley Routh. Danny Dyer followed up with a groundrule double into the left field corner of the field.
The next batter, Watson, smacked a two-run double to left-center to give the Outlaws their first runs of the game. Two batters later, designated hitter Andrew Caron poked a single up the middle that scored Watson and Mark Micowski.
Maurer stopped the bleeding by striking out the next three batters — ending his night after three innings pitched.
“Sometimes innings take so long, so I just had to stretch the whole time,” Kuzniak said. “I'll take the runs, but sometimes it's nice to have short innings.”
In the bottom of the fourth, after Marcus Loseke reached on an error, third baseman John Couch doubled to right field. However, instead of runners on second and third with one out, Loseke tried to score on Couch's double but was easily thrown out at home.
Reliever Ryan Paterson had control issues in the sixth for Team Canada, issuing four walks and a single that resulted in two more runs for the Outlaws.
Team Canada had a golden opportunity for offense in the bottom of the fourth after loading the bases with one out. Hutton led off the inning with a double to right field, Michael Martin walked and Philip Roscoe got an infield single.
However, designated hitter Gary Capolino grounded to second baseman Keigo Miyagi, who tagged out Roscoe and threw it to first for an inning-ending doubleplay.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Kuzniak done for the night, Team Canada finally came to life on offense. Nick Naegele hit a two-run triple to left field and Hutton followed with an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-3.
But any hopes at a comeback were squashed after the Outlaws tacked on four more runs with the help of erratic Team Canada pitching.
The teams in the Arizona Winter League are off today because of the Super Bowl, but will resume play on Wednesday at Desert Sun Stadium and Ray Kroc Complex.