Prep Baseball: Araya helps Bulldogs hold on for close win over Chino Valley
KINGMAN – Rilee Araya was in a jam that no pitcher wants to face with the game on the line.
The senior needed two outs, but there were runners at second and third base with the Kingman High School baseball team clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning.
Araya made sure that didn’t change – striking out the next two batters to give the Bulldogs a 7-6 victory over Chino Valley on Tuesday at KHS.
“The biggest word right there is composure, being able to know you’re going to make it out,” Araya said. “Just don’t get overwhelmed because once you get overwhelmed that’s when four runs come in. I had to stay calm and do what I do.”
Araya’s ability to stay composed was even more impressive considering Kingman committed a pair of infield errors that put the Cougars (5-1, 0-1 3A West Region) in scoring position.
The miscues could have shifted the momentum in Chino Valley’s favor, but that didn’t happen and the Bulldogs held on for their first region victory of the season.
“Everyone makes errors,” Araya said. “It’s just on how you come back and what you do after them. We came back right there and ended up winning the game. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
Araya wasn’t the only hero of the game though as Dante Bravo’s two-run triple in the bottom of the fifth proved to be the game-winning hit. Araya started off the frame by getting hit by a pitch and then Luke Ness connected on a base hit to set up Bravo.
Kingman might have added to its lead in the inning, but Bravo and Zach McCray were caught stealing on the same play and that ended the scoring chance.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs took care of business and a lot of it came from one part of the lineup.
“Overall, I’m really pleased with our offense in the top half of the lineup,” said Kingman head coach Chad Baitinger. “We scored runs every time they were up – not just one, but multiple runs. So we just need the bottom half to catch up and we’re going to be rolling."
Araya led the way with a 2-for-3 afternoon, highlighted by two runs scored and a RBI. Bravo drove in two runs, while McCray and TJ Harviston each tallied a RBI. Connor Ocampo rounded out the top performers with two runs scored.
“It’s a great win for us,” Baitinger said. “Obviously it wasn’t perfect. We have a lot of growing to do. The younger kids need to be growing mentally, especially in those games where we’re playing great teams. There’s a lot more pressure on you in those types of games. The game is a lot faster and they just need to slow it down and figure it out.”
The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 3A West Region) are back in action at 1:30 p.m. Thursday when they host crosstown rival Kingman Academy (3-4, 1-0) in a doubleheader.