The Sun Belt College Baseball League was on the rise before the pandemic hit, and it was set to grow into one of the larger summer leagues in the country, but the talent level and the excitement is still there and that was evident Sunday night at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium when over 50 of the All-Stars from the league took to the field with a couple of weeks left in the season.
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The All-Stars were separated into Team Sonora and Team Kino and the game was played in seven innings rather than nine to help preserve arms down the stretch. Sonora scored first after Alberto Nieto (Casa Grande/Dickinson State) drew a leadoff walk from starting pitcher Michael Bacica (Maine/Arizona). Nieto stole second base and a single from Cougar Cooke (Show Low/Utah Valley) moved hm over to third where he scored on a passed ball to make it 1-0.
Shane Melick (Ironwood Ridge/Mary Hardin-Baylor) doubled for Kino in the bottom half of the first but the team was unable to even things up until Nick Arias (Tucson/Grand Canyon) singled and Terrell Huggins (Cienega/North Dakota State) followed on a fielder’s choice to put one on with Drew Calloway (Sabino/Arizona) pitching for Sonora. Ivan Villa (Walden Grove/Central Lakes) singled and Huggins crossed the plate on a passed ball to make it 1-1.
Our @AllSportsTucson Sun Belt All-Star game MVP is former Vista Grande and @GCU_Baseball commit Emilio Barreras-Rojo. 2 for 2, 2 RBI and run scored. Turned out to be game-winning RBI pic.twitter.com/HRykEAj63M
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) July 4, 2022
Sonora took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third after Liam Padden (CDO/Mercy) walked, Emilio Barreras-Rojo (Vista Grande/GCU) singled and Wyatt Wilharm (Benson/Dickinson State) singled them both in.
That lead held until the top of the sixth when Sonora added two more runs after Joel Esparza (Tombstone/Ottawa) walked, Carlos Molina (Pueblo/Paradise Valley) singled for Barreras-Rojo who knocked them both in for a 5-1 lead.
Kino made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Alexander Milone (Milwaukee Area Tech) drew a leadoff walk. Cobi Cooper (Mountain View/Rockford University) followed that up with a single but a double play left Milone at third base with two outs where Angel Ochoa (CDO/Pima/SE Oklahoma State) brought him in on an RBI single to make it 5-2.
Arias singled Ochoa in to cut the lead down to 5-3 and then Huggins walked to move Arias over to scoring position where Raenan Padilla (Nogales) brought him in to make it 5-4 but that was as close at Kino would get the rest of the way.
Barreras-Rojo went 2 for 2 with 2 RBI with a run scored. His RBI in the top of the sixth inning proved to be the winning score.
Arias went 2-2 with an RBI and a runs cored; Melick had a double; Padilla went 2-2 with an RBI; Rene Brockman (Desert View/Ottawa) and Jonathan Enright (Buena) collected singles in the game.
Pitchers for Sonora included Villa, Calloway, Adam Grintz (Tulane), Ricky Santiago-Gonzalez (Salpointe/Glendale CC), Isaac Silva (Eastern Arizona), Job Rains (Tombstone/Saint Mary), Jason Maldonado (New Mexico Military Institute), Demitrius DiMatteo (New Mexico Military Institute) and Logan Martin (Sahuaro/Gateway CC).
Pitchers for Kino included Bacica, Jonnie Foreman (Marana/University of Mary), Marcus Delgado (CDO/New Mexico State), Luke Moyle (Marana), Kamden Kautz (Ironwood Ridge/ Washington & Jefferson College), Gabe Ridenour (Marana/University of Mary) and Jamison Maher (Mountain View/Pima).
The Vail Rebels and the Old Tucson gauchos are both 10-5 in league play and the Catalina Aztecs are 9-6. The regular season games start again on Tuesday night at the Kino Sports Complex and the playoffs start on Monday, July 11.
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Tucson High Post 7 Tucson leads with a record of 10-1 and Desert View Cactus Cats is 9-1-1 with the regular season ending Wednesday night.
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Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was 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 and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a 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, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org