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Tucson over Rincon/UHS at the Chris Moon Memorial

Marsha Moon threw out the first pitch. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

LINK: FREE PHOTOS OF THE GAME

It’s a Friday evening and a softball team is practicing in the distance beyond the outfield fence and young men, boys really, are fielding grounders and tossing balls on the varsity baseball field of Cherry Field. There are many ways to define perfection and what can be more perfect than watching kids play the sports they love?

Chris Moon was one of those boys.

By now, most know Chris was an All-State pitcher from Tucson High who ignored the calling of the Atlanta Braves and then left the University of Arizona as a freshman so he could serve our country in time of war. His freshman class at Arizona went on to win a national championship but Chris was not there.

Some call athletes heroes because they can hit a ball or catch one. That’s not heroic.

Chris was good at almost anything he tried and that included firing his rifle. He was really good. Chris was targeted by the enemy in a place called the Devil’s Playground. A description of what Chris and his platoon had to go through can be found at the following link.

LINK: THE LAST PATROL

He was targeted because he was the “last man,” a position taken by a soldier who followed his platoon to ensure their safety. His position, and his rifle, tipped off the enemy to who he was, and they detonated an improvised explosive device under him remotely, from their cowardly position in the shadows. Chris died several days later, while his parents Marsha and Brain were inflight, on their way to see him in a military hospital in Germany.

The Badgers honor their son every spring in a tournament that bears his name, but they also honored him by erecting a life-sized statue of him, overlooking the field where he once dominated.

Of course, there was no “Chris Moon” tournament in 2020 because there was no season to speak of and the rules of 2021 do not allow for multiple teams meeting at one venue so the “Chris Moon Memorial” was held Friday night with Rincon/University taking part.

The Badgers beat the Rangers 10-0 to improve to 11-3 on the year and the win keeps the team ranked somewhere in top ten with the 6A state tournament starting in two weeks. Rincon/UHS fell to 5-10 on the year and the team will travel to play Phoenix North (4-7) on Tuesday.

Benji Cazares took the ball for the Badgers and he limited the Rangers to four hits while collecting six strikeouts in five innings of work. Nick Arias and Ruben Villaescusa finished the game to preserve the run-rule victory in the sixth inning.

Francisco Yescas led the Rangers at the plate by going 2 for 2 with a walk but the Badgers connected on three home runs to set the tone. Andres Flores hit a solo shot, Villaescusa knocked in two runs with his blast and Ayden Escarrega brought in three. Cazares helped his won cause by going 2-2 with a triple and an RBI. Mario Bejarano went 3-3 with an RBI and Francisco Olea had two RBI.

Christian Valdespino and Antonio Mejia saw pitching action for the Rangers.

The Badgers won the 6A Desert Southwest Region title but region finish does not guarantee a playoff spot at the 6A level. The team has to finished ranked in the top 16 to accomplish that goal and each game becomes a playoff game the rest of the way beginning with a trip to play Yuma Cibola (5-10) on Monday.

The next rankings will be released Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

LINK: MORE ON CHRIS MOON

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. 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. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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