Most Viewed Stories
Solano's double helps Sidewinders take down Criminals in tournament full of GVR talent
With the championship round of the Cibola Baseball Invitational looking more like an unofficial preseason Gila Valley Region tournament, San Luis proved to be the cream of a very early crop.
The Sidewinders scored five in the first inning in the championship game against Yuma High, and after the Criminals cut the lead to one got a key hit from Daniel Solano to hold on for a 9-5 win on Saturday at Desert Sun Stadium.
San Luis had beaten defending champion Kofa 9-3 in the semifinals immediately before the final game, and Yuma earned its spot by beating the host Raiders 6-5 in a game the Criminals - home team in the contest - trailed 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
The Criminals, again the home team in the title game, trailed 5-0 after the Sidewinders pounded out five hits and batted around in the first, staking Jilberto Jimenez to a big cushion. Yuma trailed 6-2 in the fourth when Chance Sharp and Matt Higgins had RBI singles as part of a three-run outburst that made the game 6-5.
"We never doubt our guys. We always believe we're going to come back. We always believe," Yuma coach Judd Thrower said. "We were confident in coming back, and we have a great group of guys."
San Luis wasted no time answering back. Daniel Solano - who entered the game in the third inning as a pinch runner for Juan Ortiz, Tuesday's scheduled starter against Cibola - ripped a two-out double down the right field line, scoring Anthony Mendoza and Benito Garcia.
"For me, it was very important to the team," Solano said. "It made it a big lead for us, and that's what helped us win the game."
San Luis coach Cesar Castillo said he thought the sophomore might find himself in a key situation.
"I was talking to him right before I put him in the game and said, 'Hey, situation's coming. You just be ready,'" Castillo said. "He proved he was ready. He came in and he was clutch."
San Luis added an unearned run off Sharp in the sixth, the only run he gave up in three innings of relief of Austin Roberson. Jimenez didn't need it, however, as he didn't allow a run after the fourth. He walked three and struck out three in the 10-hit complete game.
"The whole tournament we had a team effort and a lot of leadership the last day," Castillo said. "Jimenez is a senior, and he wanted to pitch this game. He really showed he wanted the game."
Jesus Garcia went 3-for-3 for the Criminals with two triples, a double and two runs scored. He was intentionally walked in the fourth. Higgins added three singles and drove in two, while Andrew Herrarte added two hits for the Criminals. San Luis had 11 hits in the contest, three from Mendoza, who also scored twice and drove home a run. Jimenez was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI and Fernando Cordova added two singles.
With region play starting later this month, neither coach said to much can be figured out about a region favorite based on tournament performances. Teams played five games in three days in what is more a sign of pitching depth than anything else.
"Obviously the teams we faced, they didn't throw their aces," Castillo said. "It's going to be a different ballgame, we know that. But to be able to play without Alejandro, one of our better players, it shows a lot of character."
But it does show how tough each coach thinks the region is going to be.
"It is early in the season and it is tough to say," Thrower said. "But it does show you how equal our region is. Anybody has a good team and another has a bad day, the team with the good day is going to win every time."