Marana center fielder and right-handed pitcher Isaiah Roebuck was overwhelming on both sides of the ball in a matchup against Tucson High at Cherry Field on Thursday night.
Marana defeated Tucson, which was ranked sixth in the 6A State standings coming in to the game, 11-6 in an evening in which the Tigers controlled the game from the plate, scoring its runs off 12 hits.
Roebuck, who recently signed with the University of Jamestown, an NAIA program in North Dakota to play baseball and football, went 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs and three runs and added four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings as a relief pitcher.
Whether it was his hurdling of the outfield fence after catching a deep fly ball, or his grunting after every pitch from the mound in which the effort sometimes left his hat in the dirt beside him, Roebuck’s passion for the game of baseball was on full display during the game.
Marana took the lead in the top of the first inning from a two-run double from senior Jonnie Foreman.
Tucson High answered in the bottom of the inning when junior lead-off hitter Andres Flores hit a solo home run.
Marana began to pull away from Tucson in the second inning off of an RBI double from Roebuck, a two-run triple from sophomore Kenny Rhein, and a sacrifice fly from senior Jaden Beck. Marana pulled out to a 6-1 lead and never really looked back from there.
Jiovanni Toledo, who was recently added to the roster after being pulled up from junior varsity, added a two-run home run in the fifth inning for the Badgers.
Tucson High standout Nick Arias did not play in the game because of an injury.
Marana head coach Philip Fileccia, in his first season leading the program, was impressed by the way his team battled on Thursday night in a season of ups and downs.
“We had our backs against the wall knowing that we’ve got to climb out of some deficits we’ve put ourselves in throughout the year,” said Fileccia. “This was the biggest game, the best game we’ve played all year.”
Fileccia also credited Roebuck for his exceptional all-around performance as well as his play throughout the season.
“We go off of him, we fuel off of his energy wherever he’s at in the lineup, from lead-off to center field, hurdling fences after he makes catches,” Fileccia said. “It’s crazy what this young man has in his athleticism, that most people will never experience, and just to be a part of his career for a short amount of time, man, I’m blessed to be his coach.”
Roebuck was confident all evening at bat, and described the pitches he was looking for at the plate.
“Honestly, I came to hit velocity,” said Roebuck. “Anything I saw that was flat, I’m swinging at it, and then I’ll adjust to curve ball, that’s what I do.”
Roebuck described his passion and motivation when he’s competing on the field.
“I’ve got some friends over there on the other team, they’re fiery too.” Roebuck said. “But honestly, when I get up there I don’t care. I don’t care if they’re my friends, I don’t care if they’re family, you’re against me and I’m against you, and I’m gonna show it to you.”
He went on to describe what made him turn down a preferred walk-on spot with the University of Arizona and sign with the University of Jamestown, a school more than 1,600 miles from Tucson in North Dakota.
“Honestly, they took me in, they were pretty much my first offer,” said Roebuck. “We talk all the time, I know the guys pretty well, and they’re pretty funny. Then they came down here and said ‘what’s up’ to me, we ate and had a good time, and they’re just really close to me right now, so I had to hop on the train.”
After this season when Roebuck goes to North Dakota, one thing is certain: Jamestown is getting an all-around athlete whose grit and determination are rivaled only by his stellar ability on the playing field.
Tucson High (12-4) plays next on Friday at Ironwood Ridge at 4 p.m. Marana (11-7) plays Monday at home against Rincon/University at 4 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.