Sun Belt College Baseball League Championship Series
Kino Stadium: July 14-15
Former @sabinobatcats standout Jacob Wiltshire @jacobwiltshire1 hits walk-off single to lead the Santa Rita Warthogs @SWarthogs to the @kino_league Sun Belt Summer League championship @NMStateBaseball pic.twitter.com/98qiSeo6xr
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) July 16, 2021
Baseball is a game of second and even third chances but its also a game that needs to be played out on the field, not on a piece of paper. On paper, the Santa Rita Warthogs had no business sweeping the Catalina Aztecs in the championship series of the Sun Belt College League this week but the Warthogs came alive at the right time of the season and the clinching 9-8 victory Thursday night at Kino Stadium put that determination on display.
Down 4-0 after the top of the first and 5-0 in the third inning, the Warthogs battled back to take a 6-5 lead after five innings only to have the Aztecs retake the lead at 8-6 heading into the seventh. Two runs in the bottom half of that inning combined with a two-out walk-off single from Jacob Wiltshire (Sabino/New Mexico State) in the bottom of the ninth clinched the comeback championship and the Most Outstanding Player in the series trophy for Wiltshire.
The Sun Belt College League is Arizona’s piece of summer baseball for college commits, prospects and current college athletes hoping to improve their game before they head back to their various campuses. The Aztecs came into the championship series with a 17-4 record with five of those victories being lopsided tilts with the Warthogs by an average score of 15-1. The Warthogs had an 11-9 record, barely passing the Old Pueblo Kings (10-11) and the Desert Vaqueros (9-11) for the chance to play the Aztecs in the best-of-three championship series. By all accounts, this one looked over before it was over.
2020 was a difficult year for everyone beyond athletics and the Sun Belt League was right there. Growing in numbers and competition, the league was attracting players from all over the country before the pandemic hit and there’s no doubt it will rebound next summer with a full slate of teams and athletes to compliment the top talent seen this summer at Kino Stadium.
One of those athletes is Pima standout Trent Kiraly. Originally from Farmington, New Mexico, Kiraly hit three home runs with 10 RBI for the Aztecs this past season and some of that power was on display Thursday night when he blasted a 3-run shot to help lead his summer team to that 4-0 lead. He finished the night 2 for 3 with four RBI with his fourth RBI coming in the third to give the Aztecs a 5-0 lead.
Robert Campillo (Salpointe/Arizona Christian) picked up the early RBI for the Aztecs in the first inning and he finished the night 2-4 with that RBI. He ended the season as the league’s best producer with four home runs and 24 RBI with a .477 batting average.
Dustin Comeau, of Riverside City in California, limited the Warthogs to one walk in the first two innings of work but Christian Rodriguez (Catalina Foothills/Cochise) hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the third to chip away at the lead.
The Warthogs came alive in the bottom of the fourth with Wyatt Wingstad (Cienega/Gateway) starting things off with a single. Wiltshire hit a double one out later to put two runners in scoring position. Dominic Minjares (Pima) replaced Comeau on the mound and Tyler Wiltshire (Sabino/Minot State) followed with a single to cut the lead down to 5-3.
The Warthogs worked the bases loaded on walks to Marcus Sanders (Catalina Foothills) and Rodriguez and then Michael Buchmann (Sabino/Dakota State) completed the comeback with a 2-RBI single. Trey Trible, III (Pima) took the mound and he helped get the Aztecs out of the inning.
Tyler Wiltshire hit a sacrifice fly to score Wingstad in the fifth for the brief 6-5 lead for the Warthogs with the Aztecs storming back in the sixth.
Dante Schindler (Canyon del Oro/Pima) reached with two outs and then Shane Erickson (Ironwood Ridge/Pima) followed with a shot midway up the monster in centerfield that might have landed 480 feet away but, in Kino Stadium, the ball remains in play and Erickson ended the at bat with an RBI triple.
Kaden Stremick (Pima) brought in Erickson and Andrew Stucky (Canyon del Oro/Pima) later in the inning to make it 8-6 Aztecs. At that point Warthogs starting pitcher Dylan Tebou (Sabino/Williston State) gave way to Jacob Ortiz (Cienega/Park) and Ortiz ended the jam.
Chaison Miklich (Pima) came in for the Aztecs with two on in the bottom of the sixth and the lead held until Jacob Wiltshire knocked in Wingstad in the bottom of the seventh and Sanders hit a sacrifice fly to score Martin Rodriguez to tie things up 8-8.
Bottom of the 9th, score tied 8-8 with 2 outs. Game 2 of 3 in the Sun Belt College championship series. See how it unfolds for the Warthogs Leading the series 1-0. @Jacobwiltshire1 #AggieUp @NMStateBaseball @sabinobatcats @kino_league pic.twitter.com/GTCMveWIkC
— Santa Rita Warthogs (@SWarthogs) July 16, 2021
Wingstad singled in the bottom of the ninth and Jacob Wiltshire came through with his walk-off RBI for the victory. Wingstad finished 4-5 on the night.
The Warthogs beat the Aztecs 6-2 on Wednesday night with Diego Bejarano (Tucson/Park) going 2-4, Wingstad 3-5 and Tyler Wiltshire 3-4. Erickson went 2-3 for the Aztecs and Alex Kelch (Tucson/Pima) went 2-4.
Campillo hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first and that run held up until Bejarano hit an RBI double in the seventh, Wingstad hit an RBI and Martin Rodriguez followed with another to give the Warthogs a 3-1 lead. Sanders picked up a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Tyler Wiltshire scored on a passed ball and the Warthogs led 5-1.
Buchmann picked up a ground-out RBI in the ninth to make it 6-1 and Romeo Ballesteros (Salpointe/Pima) knocked in Erickson in the bottom of the ninth for the 6-2 final.
The Sun Belt League is run by the Kino Baseball League.
Ballesteros, Romeo Pima
Bustamante, Alex New Mexico State
Campillo, Robert Arizona Christian
Castillo, Angel Pima
Comeau, Dustin Riverside City College
Durazo, Daniel Pima
Erickson, Shane Pima
Faildo, Hunter Pima
Kelch, Alex Pima
Kiraly, Trent Pima
Kliber, Jett Pima
Miklich, Chaison Pima
Minjares, Dominic Pima
O’Brien, Liam Pima
Pintor, Isaiah Pima
Ram, Ajay Pima
Schindler, Dante Pima
Stremick, Kaden Pima
Stucky, Andrew Pima
Swanberg, Jaeden Pima
Trimble, III, Trey Pima
Alaniz, Jonathan Texas A&M Texarkana
Bejarano, Diego Park University
Buchmann, Michael Dakota State
Ibarra, Roman Pima
Ortiz, Jacob Park College
Padilla, Levi Regis University
Rodriguez, Christian Pima
Rodriquez, Martin Minot State
Roman, Alexi Central Baptist
Talavera, Matt Texas Rio Grande Valley
Tebou, Dylan Williston State
Wiltshire, Jacob New Mexico State
Wiltshire, Tyler Minot State
Wingstad, Wyatt Gateway
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 email@example.com