3/9/2014 6:00:00 AM Inaugural Kingman High School Baseball Classic deemed a success Seven teams vied for championship won by Gila Ridge; Kingman Academy third, Kingman fourth
Kingman High’s Taylor Savage throws to first baseman Tyler Julle in an attempt to pick off a Lake Havasu runner Thursday during the inaugural Kingman High School Baseball Classic at KHS. Yuma Gila Ridge won the round-robin tournament with a 6-0 record. Kingman Academy finished third and the Bulldogs were fourth.
KINGMAN - Twenty-one baseball games were played over three days during the seven-team inaugural Kingman High School Baseball Classic Thursday through Saturday, and it looks like there will be a second annual tournament in 2015.
"All the coaches thought this was great," said KHS athletic director John Venenga. "They all said they would be back."
Yuma Gila Ridge's coach Greg Osowski told Venenga he is willing to take word back down to Yuma and let the other schools there know about the tournament, if Kingman decides to expand. With Lee Williams coming on to the varsity scene next year, it could happen.
Support for the tournament went a long way in making it a success.
"We had great support from the district and the high school administration," Venenga said. "They let us have the groundskeepers for the tournament.
"It was successful because everyone stepped up for us. The umpires enjoyed it, and that's nice, too."
On the field, Gila Ridge took the classic championship with a 6-0 record. The Hawks beat Kingman, 13-5, and Kingman Academy, 5-3, en route to the title.
Kingman (3-3) finished fourth in the classic. The Bulldogs could have placed second if they had beaten Kingman Academy in the last game of the tournament. The Tigers used a four-run second to stop Kingman, 5-4.
"We've got a big group of seniors who have been with me for four years," said KHS coach Chad Baitinger. "They've bought in to what we're doing."
Kingman earned wins over Mohave (7-3), River Valley (5-3) and Chino Valley (7-5).
In the Mohave win, the Bulldogs had a four-run third inning led by Tyler Julle's single. Kingman beat River Valley with a three-run fourth on singles by Lukas Butler, Jacob Cave and Jeremiah Russell.
In the Bulldogs' final win of the tournament, Julle doubled in two and then scored on a single by Cave.
Kingman will use spring break this week to prepare for the River Valley tournament beginning Thursday in Mohave Valley.
"This tournament built a lot of confidence in my boys," Baitinger said. "We'll be all right this year. We just have to keep hitting and play good defense."
Kingman Academy (3-2-1) earned wins over Mohave (4-1), Chino Valley (8-6) and Kingman. It could be viewed as a heartbreaking tournament for the Tigers.
Kingman Academy lost to Lake Havasu (2-1), Gila Ridge (5-3) and tied River Valley (3-3). Costly fielding errors by the Tigers played prominent roles in all three games. And leading 5-2 over Kingman, another fielding error almost cost the Tigers the win against the Bulldogs.
"We're still looking for a solid outfield," said KAHS coach Bill McCord. "A couple of mistakes here and there - or we could have won every game."
McCord said that come Monday, outfield practice will be a priority.
"I'll have the pitching machine out for like 5 million fly balls," the coach said.
The Tigers came into the tournament hitting the cover off the baseball, but the offense wasn't nearly as effective during the classic.
"Up until this weekend, we've been hitting the ball really well," McCord said.
On the plus side, Kingman Academy only used one pitcher per game.
The Tigers host Parker at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday at Southside Park.