Sunnyside wins fifth straight game, continues dominance over rival Desert View

Sunnyside has won six of its last seven games to improve to 11-8 overall heading into 6A South play (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sunnyside lost to rival Desert View in one of the most thrilling high school baseball games played historically here in 1991, when the Jaguars won the 4A state championship game in front of almost 3,000 fans at Hi Corbett Field.

Desert View prevailed 3-2 in a walk-off when the winning run scored on a bases-loaded walk.

The pitcher who delivered the walk, Gabe Moraga, is now in his 12th season as the Blue Devils’ head coach.

Turnabout is fair play.

His record as Sunnyside’s coach against the Jaguars: 17-0.

That’s according to records kept by MaxPreps and it includes Friday night’s 8-2 win over visiting Desert View behind the hitting and pitching of Class of 2024 prospect Orlando Cobarrubias.

“It’s always good to win no matter who you’re playing, but it’s a little more special when you’re playing them, I guess,” Moraga said.

It was a non-region game. Desert View, a 5A school, will have to wait until next year for another opportunity to beat Sunnyside, which is at the 6A level.

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Moraga, who graduated from Sunnyside in 1992, is 184-123 in his tenure at his alma mater.

He comes from the famed Moraga baseball family at Sunnyside that includes his younger brother Omar, who went on to play at Arizona and professionally. Their cousins Raulito and Ernest Moraga were also standouts under Sunnyside coach Ernie Palomarez.

Omar’s son Adam, whose mom Selina was an accomplished softball player with the Blue Devils, pitched at Sunnyside before going on to Pima and the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma. He recently signed with the semipro team Rocky Mountain Vibes of the Pioneer Baseball League.

Gabriel Moraga, a four-year letterman at the varsity level, played at Pima College and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.

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With the Blue Devils 11-8 overall after Friday night’s win over Desert View, Moraga is in position to earn his 10th winning season in his 12 years at Sunnyside.

The Blue Devils, who open 6A Southern play Tuesday at Rincon/University, have won five consecutive games and six of their last seven.

Two of Moraga’s top players are underclassmen — Cobarrubias and Mikey Muñiz Jr.

Cobarrubias is a hard-throwing left-hander and his batterymate Muñiz is a versatile talent who platoons at catcher with fellow sophomore Jordan Mayboca.

“Orlando’s been lights out all year long,” Moraga said of Cobarrubias, who is 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks in 28 2/3 innings.

“He’s kept us in the game that he’s thrown and given us the opportunity to win them and that’s all you can ask when those guys tow the rubber — to give you a chance to win. He’s done that well for us.”

Cobarrubias leads Sunnyside’s regular lineup with a .483 batting average (28 of 58) with three home runs, six triples, five doubles and 19 RBIs.

“Our chemistry is very on point,” Cobarrubias said of Sunnyside’s five-game winning streak. “On bus rides, it’s very important. When we go out to eat, it’s important. Our communication … very small details that are key.”

Muñiz has the background with Sunnyside Little League of having a walk-off hit on ESPN that lifted his team to the West Regional championship game (one game from Williamsport, Pa.) in 2019.

He batted 3 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI against the Jaguars.

“I definitely feel like I’ve stepped it up a level coming off of last year (as a freshman),” Muñiz said. “Definitely helping out my team, trying the hardest to give team a chance to win the ballgame and get into that state playoff game.”

Muñiz, an outfielder and infielder most of his freshman season, has improved his strength and durability this year behind the plate as the catcher working out regularly at Jet Sports Training, owned by Sunnyside alum Bobby Rodriguez.

He is second behind Cobarrubias on the team in batting average (.423) with a team-best seven doubles.

“That’s my dog; I always ask for him (to catch) when I’m pitching,” Cobarrubias said. “It’s our bond. He understands me well and knows me well. That helps me.”

Sunnyside junior left-hander Orlando Cobarrubias (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sunnyside’s results against Desert View under Gabe Moraga as head coach (source: MaxPreps):


Sunnyside 6-2
Sunnyside 8-1


Sunnyside 7-0
Sunnyside 8-1


Sunnyside 7-5


Sunnyside 8-2
Sunnyside 4-3


Sunnyside 9-7


Sunnyside 11-3


Sunnyside 12-3


Sunnyside 10-2


Sunnyside 8-1


Sunnyside 4-3
Sunnyside 3-1


Sunnyside 10-3
Sunnyside 12-11


Sunnyside 8-2


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.

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