KINGMAN – Carter Rhoades still has another year on the Lee Williams High School baseball team, but he made sure the Volunteer seniors received a proper sendoff during Senior Night Tuesday at Dick Grounds Field.
The junior pitcher not only excelled on the mound, but he also helped his own cause at the plate to lift Lee Williams in defeating Mohave, 3-1.
“These are teammates and my brothers and I’m just trying to send them off the right way,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades made sure of that as he yielded just one earned run on four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks in 6 2/3 innings of work. Rhoades also led Lee Williams with two hits and scored the first run of the game.
“Carter pitched phenomenal,” Vols baseball coach Patrick O’Boyle said. “He did his job. He kept hitters off balance and he allowed our defense to play behind him. Our defense did a fantastic job of playing behind him. That’s what we ask and that’s the key to success for us.”
The defense definitely backed up Rhoades on the mound, highlighted by a number of great plays from seniors who earned the start on a night dedicated to them.
“It’s good to get those kids in that haven’t really played a whole lot during the year,” O’Boyle said. “They really responded well. I was very, very pleased with Brandon Belisime’s effort today. He was rock solid in the field and he’s kind of been that rock solid leader for us all year.”
Belisime and the other five Vol seniors in the starting lineup did provide a boost on Senior Night, but O’Boyle thought the team didn’t demonstrate its full potential at the plate. Lee Williams finished with five hits and Rhoades’ double in the first inning was the lone extra-base hit.
“I’m always for being patient, but I thought we were a little too patient tonight,” O’Boyle said. “I’d like to see us jump on an early fastball or two more often. So we’re going to look to do that Thursday (at Mohave), just kind of take advantage of what they’re going to give us and go after it.”
The Vols may not have found their offense Tuesday, but they did capitalize on their opportunities. Rhoades demonstrated that in the first inning as he scored a run on a Thunderbird throwing error.
Colin McMullen then connected on a RBI single with two outs in the fourth inning for a 2-0 advantage.
Lee Williams tallied its final run in the fifth inning when Matt Bathauer hit a sacrifice fly to center.
The win was much closer than the final score indicated, as the Vols had to work out of a base-loaded jam in the top of the seventh.
Rhoades reached the limit of 105 pitches and Russell Cottrell came on in relief with runners at first and second. Cottrell allowed a single, but induced a popup to end the game.
“I would have liked to keep (Rhoades) out there, but rules state that he has to come out,” O’Boyle said. “So we went to Russell (Cottrell) and Russell did a nice job throwing strikes and finishing the game for us.”
The Vols (9-6, 4-5 in 4A Grand Canyon) return to the field at 3:45 p.m. Thursday with a trip to Mohave and O’Boyle knows they need another victory.
“Right now we’re in must-win mode,” he said. “The bottom line is we have to win and we have to keep pushing forward. We control our own fate. So as long as we keep handling our business, we have nothing to worry about.”