A leadoff solo home run by junior third baseman Tyler Kelly gave the Mingus Union High School baseball a smashing start to its 2017 season, but the Marauders ultimately fell 8-5 to visiting Combs High School on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Six errors, including two in the decisive fifth inning, proved costly for the Marauders [1-1] during a game in which there were a number of big plays.
“There were too many errors,” Kelly said. “We gave the game away ... no way they should’ve had eight runs. We should’ve won 5-4 or 5-3.”
After having a three-run third inning to pull even at five, Mingus gave up three more during the next two innings. The final two runs came after it turned a controversial double-play that prompted Combs head coach John Scrogham to have an extended word with the umpire.
Coyotes senior pitcher Colt Chance was called for interference at second base as Mingus sophomore second baseman Tyree Kim threw to first.
On the following plays Marauders senior catcher Gus Henley tried to catch sophomore second baseman Ramon Mendoza stealing to end the inning, but overthrew the ball into centerfield.
Sophomore center fielder Bradley Howard compounded that throwing error with another of his own, and Mendoza scored. Back-to-back hits drove in the Coyotes’ eighth and final run.
“They put pressure on us, and they capitalized,” Mingus head coach Bob Young said. “We weren’t focused when you have to be focused.”
Down 4-1 in the third, consecutive singles put Mingus in position to do its damage with zero outs. Kelly finished a long at-bat by driving in Howard and sophomore shortstop Joe Machado with his second big hit of the day, a two-RBI triple, into the deep left field corner.
Kim brought Kelly home in the next at-bat, and the go-ahead run in junior pitcher Andrew Kulis was given a free base after getting hit by a pitch. Kulis stole second and reached home on a bloop single by senior first baseman Mitchell Lindsay.
Kelly talked about the Marauders’ plan during their plate appearances; they finished with seven hits but left three runners on base.
“Waiting till it’s a full count or with two strikes,” Kelly said. “Then going for foul balls, making the pitcher work till he makes a mistake.”
The Coyotes got out to a two-run lead in the first, one after a wild pitch and the other one a late throw home after Chance was caught stealing at second with senior shortstop Josh McDevitt waiting on third. A second-inning RBI double drove in the third, and Chance scored the fourth on a passed ball in the third inning.
Combs’ fifth came on a solo home run by Coyote junior first baseman Tyler Shields, and the go-ahead scored by junior third baseman Tommy Garcia when freshman designated hitter Wyatt Larson blasted a ball into center field that almost resulted in an inside-the-park home run.
Ultimately, Kelly felt like the team lacked energy, something it can immediately improve on in the future.
“We had no energy out there in the field,” Kelly said. “We weren’t pumped up enough. Same in the dugout; there was not enough energy.”
Kelly and Machado each finished with two hits. Kulis, the starting pitcher, gave up two runs on six hits with one strikeout in three innings. Lindsay and Kulis switched positions at the start of the fourth.
The Marauders got their first win of the season at Greenway High School, 10-2, the following day. Their game scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27 against Wickenburg High School was cancelled due to rain, and a new date has yet to be announced.