Sunnyside starter Diego Pinedo obviously does not let the moment get to him, as evidenced by his no-hit performance in his four innings in a 12-1 win over Pantano Thursday night in the District 12 Junior League championship game at Thomas Jay Regional Park.
“It felt like a normal game, have fun and play,” Pinedo said matter-of-factly after striking out six and walking two in his solid four innings before his father, Sunnyside coach Paul Pinedo, moved him to left field to start the bottom of the fifth (and final) inning.
Sunnyside’s Junior League team (13- and 14-year-olds) won three games in the District 12 tournament, including Thursday’s win over Pantano, to improve to 19-1 overall.
Sunnyside's Diego Pinedo talks about not allowing a hit in his four innings and going 3 for 3 with three RBIs in the 12-1 win over Pantano in the District 12 Junior League championship. Sunnyside advances to the state tournament next month in Sierra Vista. pic.twitter.com/HhZJYOCtgJ
The team advances to the state tournament starting July 13 in Sierra Vista.
“He’s pretty mentally strong,” Paul Pinedo said of his son. “Nothing really rattles him up too much. First inning was a little rough and then the second, third and fourth inning, he threw strikes.”
Pinedo, who will be a freshman at Sunnyside next season, did not allow a baserunner past second base.
Indicative of how he battled his way through any challenge, the right-hander struck out two of the last three batters he faced in the first and fourth after allowing a walk and throwing a wild pitch.
Pinedo also went 3 for 3 at the plate with a double and 3 RBIs. His batterymate, Roman Basurto, was also productive going 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs.
“Diego, he’s a good pitcher, he has good velocity, he throws the pitches we need. He sets it all, I think,” Basurto said.
Sunnyside took control in the third inning when it sent 12 batters to the plate in a 7-run rally to take a 10-0 lead.
Pinedo had a two-run double and Basurto had a run-scoring double in the rally. Emilio Lizarraga led off the inning with a double. Esteban Young, Gerardo Salazar and Gerardo Ortiz also singled in the six-hit inning. Salazar and Ortiz came off the bench to produce.
“One through 13 (players on the roster), they can all swing the bat,” said Paul Pinedo, whose team tallied 11 hits in a total of 24 official at-bats. “My starting nine does really well but I can bring in my four subs to come in and do the job also.”
Cesar Orozco also doubled and scored in the second inning for Sunnyside.
Pantano, to its credit, did not lose easily in the fifth after its first two batters were out. Rogelio Gonzales gave his team its first hit and run of the game with a double to right-center field, scoring Hayden Harriger, who earlier walked.
Sunnyside reliever Miguel Traslavina closed things out with a strikeout.
Now it’s on to the state tournament, one in which Paul Pinedo said will feature tough teams to beat. His son, who has already played baseball for 10 years and has a pro career as a goal, should keep his focus heading into that tournament.
Regionals is the next step and then nationals.
“I’m not really thinking about it,” the younger Pinedo said of the state tournament. “I’m just looking at it as another game.”
For many players, that’s what they want you to believe. With Diego Pinedo, you get the sense he really means it and that bodes well for Sunnyside.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.