by Austin Green
CHANDLER, AZ – Based out of Gilbert, Ariz. just a few miles down the road, the boys of the Desert Thunder 14u baseball team looked to defend their home (or close-to-home) turf against the San Rafael, Calif.-based Future Prospects at Snedigar Park on Saturday. They did just that, cruising to an 8-1 victory at the Arizona Spring Championships behind six stellar innings from starting pitcher Dylan Wildrick.
“Oh my gosh, [Dylan] was phenomenal,” said Desert Thunder manager Garry Talley. “He gave up one run that wasn’t even earned. He was very controlled, worked the zone around, kept the guys off balance, did a great job.”
In addition to that one unearned run, Wildrick had four strikeouts and gave up just two hits and one walk. He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced and also did damage with his bat, singling and scoring a run.
“I think my curveball worked a little better as the game went on,” Wildrick said.
Wildrick also got some help from his defense, including a nice diving catch from second baseman Robby Hirsch to end the top of the sixth. Ezekiel Zion threw a scoreless seventh inning in relief to slam the door on Future Prospects, notching two strikeouts of his own.
By then, the game was already pretty far out of reach for the visitors, as Desert Thunder wasted no time revving up its offense. After a Tanner Decker single and Ivan Rubio walk put two on with one out against starting pitcher Eddie Kideckel in the bottom of the first, Arius Rubio (no relation) stepped up to the plate and noticed Future Prospects’ outfielders were playing shallow.
“We’re always thinking, ‘Fastball, sit on [the pitcher’s] fastball,” Arius Rubio said. “So my mindset was that I was going to get a good fastball and hit it over their heads. Which is what I did.”
Arius Rubio ended up on third with a two-run triple to give Desert Thunder a quick 2-0 lead, then scored on an error later in the inning to cap off a three-run opening frame for his team. Desert Thunder added another run in the second when Kade Williams reached on an error and came around to score on a triple from Zion.
Future Prospects got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when leadoff hitter Max Matthews reached on an error, advanced to second on a slow groundout, stole third base and scored on a groundout by teammate August Block.
Desert Thunder got the run right back in the bottom of the inning when Kade Williams reached on a fielders’ choice, advanced to third on back-to-back singles, and scored on a wild pitch.
The home team then blew the game open in the fifth. Ivan Rubio led off with a single, eventually stole second and third, and scored on an RBI single from Nate Nielsen. Wildrock singled to advance Nielsen to third, stole second, then advanced again on a wild pitch that also scored Nielsen. Eric Talley then brought Wildrick home with an RBI single of his own.
“We have a saying: Stay the course,” Garry Talley said. “They stayed the course and they just keep going.”