GAME TOTAL: 127
Sunnyside held on to beat Rincon 10-9 Thursday night to capture the District 12 8-10 Baseball championship held at Anamax Park in Sahuarita. Sunnyside took an early lead, only to see Rincon battle back to give the fans a special game to remember.
It looked like the game was going to get out of hand quickly, with Sunnyside plating four runs in the bottom of the first, but a heads-up defensive play prevented further damage. Omar Ruiz led off with a walk but that was followed by two quick outs. Then the bats started to come alive. Jesus Luevanos followed with an RBI single, Boi Armenta singled to right, Angel Rodriguez beat out an infield RBI, Josiah Poblete had his own infield RBI and Josue Espinoza followed all that up with an RBI double.
Sunnyside came up with another blast to the outfield that scored two more runs but Rincon first baseman Colton Balmer realized the batter missed his base and Balmer made an appeal to the umpire and the out was called, erasing the two runs and putting a stop to what surely would have ended the game early.
Eliel Gonzalez-Cotto hit a leadoff single in the top of the second and scored on an error later in the inning to cut the lead down to 4-1 but Ruiz singled and scored on error in the bottom half of the inning to put Sunnyside up 5-1 and still in control.
Rincon started to chip away at the lead with a couple of unearned runs in the third and then took the lead on three runs in the fourth to make it 6-5 Rincon. Ryan McCammond reached on a hit-by-pitch with one out in the fourth and Hunter Benson followed with a single. Balmer drew a walk and then Jaxson Pearson knocked in McCammond and Benson to tie the game up 5-5. Raydon Rocha collected an RBI single one out later to give Rincon the lead.
But, just like that, Sunnyside took advantage of some Rincon miscues in the bottom of the fourth to score four runs and retake the lead, 9-6. Asiel Loera and Cristian Salgado paced the inning with singles.
Still, Rincon was not finished. McCammond and Benson picked up clutch RBIs to tie the game back up 9-9. Sunnyside scored the winning run the bottom of the fifth after Ezequiel Lorta reached on a fielder’s choice, Orlando Pinedo singled and Luevanos doubled to score Lorta, all with two outs.
Pinedo got the start for Sunnyside and he collected seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings but his shift to short stop after Poblete took over in the fourth proved to be just as important after he came up with three big throws to first, including one in the top of the sixth to help stop Rincon from mounting another comeback.
“I feel our team is good because we all work hard,” Pinedo said. “I told myself to work super hard tonight.”
Benson took the mound for Rincon and Rocha took over in the fourth. Benson only gave up three earned runs and he went 1-for-2 at the plate with a runs scored and an RBI off of a sacrifice bunt.
“They are the best friends I have ever had,” Benson said about his team.
Sunnyside advances to the Arizona 8-10 State Tournament scheduled to start July 12 at Freedom Park where they will join District 5 champion Oro Valley.
Rincon plays Copper Hills tonight at Purple Heart Park for the District 12 9-11 Baseball championship. Rincon beat Copper Hills 5-0 in the first round of the tournament and the team from Sahuarita survived three elimination game to get to the rematch, including a 10-9 win over Sunnyside Thursday night. That is the only Little League game on tap tonight.
Maggie Morales contributed to the roundup.
Maggie Morales is a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston where she is a three-time Academic All-American on the softball team. Maggie grew up in Tucson and played softball at Canyon del Oro where she won a state title.
CHAMPION ROLL CALL
D-5 8-10 SOFTBALL: Thornydale
D-12 8-10 SOFTBALL: Copper Hills
D-5 8-10 BASEBALL: Oro Valley
D-12 8-10 BASEBALL: Sunnyside
D-5 9-11 BASEBALL: Canyon View
D-5 9-11 SOFTBALL: Marana
D-5 LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Tucson Mountain
D-12 LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Sam Xavier
D-5 LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL: Western
D-12 JUNIOR BASEBALL: Sunnyside
THURSDAY, JULY 5
D-12 8-10 BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunnyside 10, Rincon 9
D-12 9-11 BASEBALL
Copper Hills 10, Sunnyside 9
D-12 LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Copper Hills 9, Rincon 1
Sunnyside 13, Santa Rita 0
FRIDAY, JULY 6
D-12 9-11 BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Rincon vs. Copper Hills, Purple Heart 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
D-12 LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Copper Hills vs. Santa Rita, Perry 6:30 p.m.
MONDAY, JULY 9
D-12 LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunnyside vs. Copper Hills/Santa Rita, Perry 6:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, JULY 12
STATE 8-10 BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
FRIDAY, JULY 13
WESTERN REGION JUNIOR SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
Opening Ceremonies: Omni Tucson National
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com