Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – It was only fitting that a pitching duel broke out Wednesday night between the Kingman and Kingman Academy baseball teams. When the dust settled, it was Kingman’s Rilee Araya who remained untouched in a 3-0 win over the Tigers at Southside Park.
Baseball: Kingman at Kingman Academy - Feb. 21, 2018
The Kingman High School baseball team held off rival Kingman Academy Wednesday night with a 3-0 win at Southside Park. Photos by Beau Bearden.
“Everything was coming out right,” Araya said. “I was taking everything slow, I didn’t rush anything and I did my thing.”
The junior hurler yielded no runs, struck out eight and walked just two in a complete game effort. Kingman head coach Chad Baitinger praised Araya for maturing from last season when he threw too many balls and wouldn’t make it past the fifth inning.
“I know that any given night that he can go out there and do that,” Baitinger said of Araya. “I’ve been trying to preach to him to throw more strikes earlier in the count so he can make it through the whole game. He did an excellent job of that today.”
The Bulldogs made sure Araya’s gem wasn’t wasted as they put up a run in the top of the second when TJ Harviston singled to score Araya. Kingman then added two insurance runs in the fifth. The first came via a throwing error and then Mason Telford stole home for a 3-0 advantage.
The Academy had opportunities to make it a ballgame, but couldn’t find a way to capitalize. In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers had Kaden Bean in scoring position after Donny Tatham laced a double to left field. Unfortunately, a strikeout ended the threat.
Then the Academy couldn’t put together a two-out rally in the seventh with Bradley Hecker and Wyatt Hall at first and second, respectively.
“We didn’t hit the ball hard enough,” said Tigers head coach Bill McCord. “We had a few good hits. … We just kept putting the ball in play. So (Araya) forced a lot of ground balls and they were able to make the outs. That was good on his side. I’m not taking anything away from them because they did really well.”
Kingman finished with four hits, spread out between Telford, Harviston, Daniel Oliver and Hayden Tanner. The Bulldogs made them count though and will need to keep it rolling with a 3:45 p.m. contest Friday at Lee Williams.
“All that hard work in the offseason is paying off,” Baitinger said. “They’re buying into it. I’m really proud of the kids.”
The Academy, meanwhile, couldn’t plate a run and a lot of that had to do with its eight total strikeouts. The Tigers have plenty of time to improve and look to do so this weekend at the Copper Classic in Bagdad.
“We have some things to work on, but I thought it was a pretty good ballgame,” McCord said. “There were some mistakes, but they didn’t kill us too bad.”