Sunnyside was hoping to continue riding the wave of freshman Ashley Rosthenhausler throwing a no-hitter and one-hitter in her previous two state playoff appearances when the third-seeded Blue Devils faced No. 10 Tucson in a 6A elimination game Saturday.
Rosthenhausler had an inauspicious start allowing two hits in the first inning, more than what she allowed in her previous 14 innings combined.
Although she mostly kept Tucson in check, Rosthenhausler was relieved by Tatyana Vega — last year’s freshman sensation — in the top of the fourth after the Badgers scored two runs to tie the game.
Vega took control from there in the circle after dominating at the plate in the 4-2 win at Amphitheater High School.
“All of us contributed little by little,” said Vega, who bounced back after suffering the loss to Tempe Corona del Sol in the opener of the 6A tournament last week.
“We just put it together and came out with the ‘W.'”
Putting it together for Vega included going 3 for 3 with a home run and RBI and pitching the last 3 2/3 innings and allowing only four hits with no runs and no walks and two strikeouts to earn the victory.
Sunnyside’s Tatyana Vega was dominating in circle and at plate for the Blue Devils in 4-2 win over Tucson in a 6A elimination game. She scattered four hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief with no walks and two strikeouts, including one to end the game. Also 3-3 with HR and 2 RBIs. pic.twitter.com/rfJtdhmcWM
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) May 6, 2023
“I thought I did well,” Vega continued. “I was in a slump for a little bit, and I finally got out of it in this game. I am glad I am finally getting out of it because this is where we need it. My pitching? I did well. I didn’t throw as well as I would have liked against Corona del Sol but I am making way back and I did what I had to do on the mound in this game.”
Sunnyside (29-6) advanced to the elimination-bracket final against No. 6 Mesa Red Mountain (21-7-1) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Quail Park Run at Mesa. The winner of that game will face No. 4 Perry (20-9) in the semifinal round on Thursday.
Tucson finished its season 25-9-1 overall.
“We rode Ashley since losing to Corona del Sol and Ashley came on strong in the other games (no-hitter and one-hitter over Sunnyslope and Desert Vista, respectively),” Sunnyside first-year coach Ruben Cazares said. “That does not mean we don’t have faith in our No. 1 and No. 2. They’re all considered the same to me. We have that luxury … We still know we can go to Gaby (Morales) as well.”
Vega’s home run in the first inning with two outs opened the scoring.
Sunnyside rallied again in the second inning with former Badger infielder Leylanni Lopez hitting a double with one out, followed by Amerika Lopez’s single. Morales then hit another single, scoring Lopez to increase the lead to 2-0.
Sunnyside second baseman Leylanni Lopez faced her former team (Tucson High) and she contributed to Sunnyside’s stellar defensive effort (Blue Devils only one error in last three games, all in 6A elimination bracket). Had hit & run in 4-2 win over Tucson High today. pic.twitter.com/BuQ9L0qy9e
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) May 6, 2023
Rosthenhausler retired five consecutive batters before Tucson’s rally for two runs in the fourth on Jadyn Cota’s sacrifice fly and a runner coming home on a wild pitch.
Sunnyside’s defense, which has only one error in the last three games, was near flawless behind Rosthenhausler and Vega.
Natalya Rivera’s fielding of a scorcher down the line at third base to end Tucson’s first inning was the start of impressive performance by the infielders. In one sequence, Leylanni Lopez ran fast to grab a shallow fly ball in centerfield, turned in one motion and threw the runner out at first for the double play.
“Our infield, we’ve been working on it,” Leylanni Lopez said. “We’ve been working on our drop-steps, communicating. We’re all clicking together knowing what’s going to happen … We pulled it all through. We were positive and kept it all the way.”
Sunnyside increased its lead to 3-2 with two outs in fourth on Vega’s RBI single.
The Blue Devils scored the last run with two outs in the sixth on Rivera’s run-scoring single.
Ruben Cazares’ first season as No. 3 Sunnyside’s head coach special one. Blue Devils 29-6 and headed to 6A elimination bracket final against No. 6 Mesa Red Mountain on Tuesday at Quail Run Park at 6:30 pm. Winner advances to semifinals to play Perry (out of the winners bracket). pic.twitter.com/cwcsjyFzoG
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) May 7, 2023
Tucson tried to mount a rally in the seventh with Sofia Trejo and Alyssa Torres opening the inning with singles. Leylanni Lopez then turned the pivotal double-play catch and throw-out in shallow centerfield.
A single by Yami Villa put runners at first and third with two outs.
Vega then struck out the last batter for the victory.
“I just wanted to go in there and shut things down and be myself,” Vega said. “We just have to trust the process, do what we have to do, what we did in this game — little hits, pitching, defense — it all works out.”
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.