Verde Valley forces title rematch Saturday in rout over Prescott
Prescott defense commits 8 errors in loss
COTTONWOOD — Dante Gabaldon’s single in the fifth inning became Verde Valley’s first RBI base hit of the District 10 Majors All-Stars Tournament title game as the Prescott All-Stars committed eight errors in a 12-2 loss Friday night.
Gabaldon, who was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored, gave Verde Valley a 9-2 lead at that point, and Prescott never recovered.
“I knew they were going to put the ball in play, they are a great hitting team. We have to play defense, and the problem is, we haven’t had to play defense all tournament,” Prescott skipper Bert Miller said. “We’ve solely relied on pitching, and even with good pitching, Verde Valley is going to put the ball in play.”
With a double-elimination format in District 10 Majors All-Stars Tournament play, Verde Valley forces a second championship game Saturday at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood.
In the first inning, Prescott starting pitcher Tyson Potts set Verde Valley down in order, then Zane Torrey gave Prescott a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout that scored leadoff hitter Jacob McElfresh.
Logan Kunow’s RBI double down the left field line scored Torrey, making it 2-0, but it was the only time Prescott would lead all night.
“We fell apart. We didn’t have much focus,” Potts said. “Tomorrow we have to come out here and play some tight defense if we want to win it all.”
Potts surrendered six runs, all unearned, on three hits and two walks while striking out six on 86 pitches.
Kunow added that Prescott may have thought they were “going to win it without even trying.”
“We need to focus a lot more tomorrow, and not let anything get us down,” Kunow said.
In the top of the second, Gabaldon’s double appeared to perfectly hit the right field foul line, but two runs scored on a throwing error by Prescott during the same play, making it 2-2.
Verde Valley would score its first eight runs of the contest on eight errors by Prescott, and 10 of their 12 runs scored were unearned.
“We need to go back to basics, catch and throw,” Miller said. “They need to relax, throw the ball, catch the ball and make plays, just like they have all year.”
To add insult to injury, Prescott second baseman Harper Snyder hit a towering home run in the bottom of the second to give his club a 3-2 lead, but was called out at third for missing the bag on Verde Valley’s appeal throw.
Lost in the defensive debacle on Prescott’s end was Verde Valley starting pitcher Garrett Hagstrom’s effort. He pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits, four walks and four strikeouts on 68 pitches.
And Ben Miranda’s throw from right field to gun down a Prescott runner at home plate put an end to the game by 10-run rule.
“I thought I could throw him out, so I recovered on the bad hop and threw him out at home,” Miranda said. “This is exciting, we need to put the ball in play tomorrow and score runs.”
Prescott (3-1) will send Torrey to the mound Saturday in the tournament finale against Verde Valley in Cottonwood at Riverfront Park.
Verde Valley’s (4-1) starting pitcher was not announced after the game Friday night.
Saturday's contest will decide who represents District 10 in the Arizona Little League Majors All-Stars Tournament at Horseshoe Trails Elementary School in Phoenix later this month.
First pitch was originally scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but after discussion between the teams, according to tournament director Jayne Lee, Saturday's finale will be played at 9 a.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @SportsWriter52 or reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.