2024 Baseball

Salpointe shows resiliency, pitching depth in extra-inning win at Catalina Foothills

Salpointe’s baseball team is in the midst of playing nine games in a 13-day span to end the regular season, including a matchup with fellow top-10 team Catalina Foothills on the road Saturday.

The Lancers, the No. 5 team in 4A, outlasted the Falcons, the No. 5 team in 5A, with a 3-2 victory in eight innings.

Scheduled against the likes of rival CDO (twice) with road games against Catalina Foothills and Walden Grove makes this stretch that much more challenging.

The Lancers (15-5-1) are 3-1 in this nine-game span with the loss occuring Friday at CDO, a 3-2 decision.

“We had a really good discussion after the CDO game,” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said. “Let it burn a little bit but leave it there, got another big one tomorrow (Saturday at Catalina Foothills) — another big ball game.

“End of a long week — four games this week. Getting into a long week next week in which we have four games but then a fifth on Monday (at Walden Grove on April 22 in the regular-season finale). Not a lot of time to think about what could’ve, should’ve been.”

A significant benefit for Salpointe is Preble’s 16 years of experience as its head coach.

Much of what the Lancers are going through with the string of consecutive difficult games in a short amount of time, Preble has managed the program through in previous years.

Preble is 327-133-2 in his head coaching career that started in 2009 at his alma mater. He has coached Salpointe to four state title games, winning the school’s one and only championship in 2019.

The obvious concern averaging a game every other day for two weeks is pitching.

Salpointe’s pitching runs 10 deep with ace Shawn Barros (Saturday’s starter against Catalina Foothills) with the most innings at 37. Lucas Shannon (29 innings), Izaiah Moraga (15) and Aciel Guillen (13 2/3) are the others with double-digit innings pitched through the first 21 games.

“It is a challenge but fortunately we’ve got a number of arms that we can go to,” said Preble about the schedule to close the regular season. “But in the same breath, if things go haywire in a game, we have to go into our staff a little bit, it could get hairy.”

Preble did not have to worry about that Saturday with Barros, a hard-throwing senior right-hander on the mound.

Barros, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Grand Canyon, allowed four hits in 7 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks. He is now 6-1 with a 0.95 ERA.

“I felt really good from the beginning; I trust my boys behind me,” Barros said of his performance against the Falcons. “Defense was good. Hitting was good. The boys are going to come out there and have my back and they’re going to have mine. Just a good team win.”

Barros engaged in a pitcher’s duel with Catalina Foothills left-hander Ganon Dwyer, a Class of 2025 Arizona commit.

Dwyer (3-1, 2.21 ERA) scattered six hits in his seven innings while striking out five and walking one.

The game was scoreless until Catalina Foothills (17-6) rallied for a run after Dwyer walked with one out in the fourth inning. A single by Cooper Kruk advanced Dwyer to second base. With two outs, Alden Foster hit an RBI single to put Catalina Foothills on the scoreboard first.

“It’s one of those games it was a pretty even shot, but they got it done and we didn’t,” Dwyer said. “Both me and Shawn, the starters, got through seven with less than six hits … Salpointe got it done and we didn’t.”

Salpointe responded to Catalina Foothills’ run in the fourth by rallying for two in the top of the fifth.

The Lancers scored the first run on a throwing error. Ronan Baker followed with an RBI single, scoring Guillen, who earlier singled.

Jacob Bergthold, grandson of late Arizona football coach Dick Tomey, tied the game at 2 for Catalina Foothills in the bottom of the fifth. He scored on an error after he was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved to second on Paden Good’s single.

Salpointe rallied after Dwyer moved from the mound to first base to start the eighth inning.

After Shannon singled and Jose Simon doubled, Barros was intentionally walked to load the bases.

With one out, Guillen hit a chopper up the middle that shortstop Nate Shoemaker fielded, but he lost his balance on the difficult play. Shannon scored to put Salpointe ahead 3-2.

“All I was doing was trying to put the ball in play,” said Guillen, who went 2 for 4 with a run and RBI. “I actually thought it was going to be a double play there. I was trying my hardest to get down the line.

“It’s pretty big for me. I wanted to get the ‘W’ after I made the error (that led to Bergthold’s run).”

Dwyer threw 98 pitches, prompting his exit before the eighth inning.

After Catalina Foothills huddled following the game, Dwyer ran on the warning track alone for about 10 minutes.

“For me, as a pitcher, what I love is being in control of the game,” Dwyer said. “Part of that (running the outfield alone) was to blow off some steam. Part of it is taking care of my health so I can throw at the U of A. And you know, 98 pitches, on whoever’s arm, whether you’re in college or the big leagues, takes a toll.

“Part of it is a way for me to gather my head and get over a tough lough like this because obviously I want to win that game.”

Barros, who threw 107 pitches (74 for strikes), struck out Catalina Foothills’ batter to lead off the bottom of the eighth.

He was then relieved by Ernesto Bojorquez, who retired the next two batters, including the last one via a strikeout to earn his second save of the season.

Barros said Salpointe “got together as a group and refocused” after the loss to rival CDO on Friday night. The teams will have a rematch Friday at Salpointe but the Lancers must concern themselves first with games at Flowing Wells on Tuesday and at Sabino on Wednesday before hosting Sahuaro on Thursday.

“We focused on our process, trusted our process and came together with some really big hits and some really big runs at a good time (against Catalina Foothills),” Barros said.

Catalina Foothills has an arduous schedule of its own with five games in a span of a week starting Monday at Nogales. The Falcons then host Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday and Cholla on Thursday before playing at Marana on Friday. They end the regular season next Monday (April 22) with a home game against Sabino.


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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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