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Kings rally to top Raiders
Sometimes a 15-foot nubber can be more effective than a 350-foot blast.
The Kofa baseball team scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on a soft-hit ball off the bat of Simon Corea, capping a back-and-forth 4-3 Kofa win over Cibola in a Gila Valley Region contest on Friday.
The Kings (5-5 AIA, 1-2 region) had the bases loaded with two outs when Corea came to bat. On a 2-2 pitch, Corea hit the ball in front of home plate but too far from the catcher to have a play on it. Cibola reliever Ryan Nowlin came to get the ball on the third-base side of the mound but slipped, and the rushed throw to get Corea sailed wide. Sergio Sanchez was barrelling down from the line from third and scored the winning run.
"Simon was fortunate to put the ball in play in a weird spot there," Kofa coach Richy Leon said. "We tell our guys on a ground ball they got to do three things right - they have to catch it, throw it and catch it again. Fortunately we ended up on the right side of that and hopefully we can keep being scrappy, putting balls in play and having good ABs."
The win was the second in the row for the Kings, who blew out San Luis 10-0 on Wednesday in a nonregion contest.
They led early Friday, then fell down one to the Raiders (5-3, 0-1) before tying the game at 3-3 in the fifth. Angel Sanchez had a one-out single to start the seventh, then was replaced on first by Sergio Sanchez, who hit into a fielders choice for the second out but had two RBIs earlier in the game. Hector Valenzuela singled to right, then a walk to Mario Rivera - who picked up the win in two innings of scoreless relief - loaded the bases for Corea.
"You got to play perfect, and I don't think either team did that today," Leon said. "It's good luck we were at home and we come up on the winning side of it. Hopefully we can build on it. Obviously we weren't as sharp as we were last game, but we did some good things. Our hitting was semi-timely, but we'll take it any way we can."
The two-out walk in the seventh wasn't the only time Cibola pitchers walked a batter late only to have it prove costly. Starter Josh Jackson gave up two-out walks in the fourth and fifth, and the Kings scored in both frames.
"They say walks are deadly for a reason," Cibola coach Duane Evans said. "Statistically, that run usually may cross the plate for you. It's something we want to stay away from, but it's part of the game also. You don't get a pitch here, something there, you get behind... overall we've disappointed, but we played well enough to win."
Kofa scored first, getting an unearned run in the third. Sergio Sanchez was up with a runner on third - leadoff hitter Cesar Valenzuela who reached on a two-base error - and one out. He took three balls and fouled off three pitches before hitting the ball up the right side, plating the game's first run.
Leon said that's the type of hitting the coaches stress every day in practice.
"He did a good job of taming his swing and knowing he had a job to do," Leon said. "He put the ball play, and in that situation a ball in play scores us a run. It was an unselfish at-bat there. The other one, obviously, he smoked in the gap. That was huge."
After the third, the lights at the field turned off for about 10 minutes. When they came back on, Cody England singled for the Raiders to start the fourth, then Krysthian Leal hit his third home run of the year, a long blast well over the right field fence.
Cibola got two more runners on in the inning, but Tyler Parmenter was caught stealing second with runners on the corners and two outs. Kofa, as it did in the third, scored without a hit in the fourth. Rivera walked, moved to second and third on fielders choices, and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
"We had some opportunities there to execute, get another run across the board and put a little more pressure on them," Evans said. "We might have gave one away on passed ball, but overall we played well. As long as we're in striking distance and have the capability to win a ballgame, we played well. We had a bad break there at the end, and we're not hitting anymore."
Jackson singled to start the Cibola fifth, then scored on a two-out error. Kofa tied it in its fifth when Sergio Sanchez laced a double of the fence in right field, scoring Angel Sanchez.
Cibola out Kofa 7-5 in the game in which no player had a multihit effort. Corea got the start for the Kings, allowing two earned in five innings, striking out one and walking two. Jackson also allowed two earned in his five-inning stint for the Raiders. Rivera allowed two hits and struck out one in picking up the win for the Kings.