Prep Baseball: Bulldogs inch closer to region title with win over Wickenburg
KINGMAN – It never hurts to have a star athlete, but a squad is even more talented when it can win with a number of different role players.
The Kingman High School baseball team proved that as it rallied behind Luke Ness’ solid outing Thursday afternoon to pick up a 3-1 victory over No. 26 ranked Wickenburg (8-9, 5-4 3A West Region).
“We’re so much a team this year,” Ness said. “We come together, we do everything as a team. It’s not individually – we come as one and that’s when good things happen.”
The Bulldogs had a good thing happen in the third inning as Wranglers catcher Bryson Alder appeared to get an out at home, but his foot was off the plate and Kingman’s TJ Harviston was called safe.
“That gave us a boost,” Ness said.
It sure did as the Bulldogs tacked on another run when Rilee Araya grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Hayden Tanner for a 2-0 advantage.
Ness took care of business from there, holding the Wranglers to one earned run on three hits with 12 strikeouts and one walk in a complete-game effort. The senior also helped his own cause by hitting a RBI double in the fifth to give Kingman an insurance run.
Even with the win, Bulldogs head coach Chad Baitinger knows his team needs to make some improvements before the 3A State Championship.
“We’re leaving way too many runners on base – we need to break out of that,” Baitinger said. “I don’t like close games, but we’re able to handle them. Our defense has stepped up and our pitching has been awesome. We just need to understand we have way too many base running errors right now. So we’re going to work on that before the playoffs.”
But before the Bulldogs start thinking about state, they have their eyes on a 3A West Region championship. No. 12 ranked Kingman (9-5, 7-2) only needs a win over 35th-ranked River Valley (1-12, 1-8) to lock up the title. The Dust Devils come to town at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We want to win the region title – that’s our goal,” Baitinger said. “That’s what we’re thinking about right now – is that game, nothing else. It’s up to us now. It’s our destiny if we win.”
Kingman 14, Wickenburg 2
At KHS, the Lady Bulldogs put an end to a four-game losing streak Thursday and did so in grand fashion by cruising to a 14-2 win over No. 28 ranked Wickenburg (5-10, 0-9 3A West Region) in five innings due to the run rule.
Morgan Stephens went a perfect 3-for-3 and drove in five runs, while Cassidy Hobbs added three RBIs and Kearra Tauta plated two runs.
The Lady Bulldogs outhit their opponent by a 10-2 margin and held the Lady Wranglers scoreless after two runs in the first inning.
Lilianna Valdivia picked up the win in the circle after yielding two hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Kingman took a 4-2 advantage after the second inning and then exploded for seven runs in the third and tacked on three more in the fourth to pick up the win.
The No. 21 ranked Lady Bulldogs (8-8, 5-4 3A West Region) conclude the regular season at 3:45 p.m. Monday when they host second-ranked River Valley (14-0, 9-0).