By Marcos Aragon
SCOTTSDALE — Militia earned the No. 1 seed entering championship Sunday with its impressive victory over Wasatch Baseball, 20-0, on Saturday afternoon.
The team posted 11 runs in the first inning, and never looked back after that. Militia’s lineup was in a groove offensively and forced Wasatch to change pitchers three times in the opening inning.
The offense of Militia (CA) found success hitting the ball all over the field, but excelled at earning baserunners from being hit by the ball along with terrific plate vision. Even though the team was out to such an early lead, head coach Ray Arredondo voiced to his team that they still could not afford to be satisfied with the lead and that there was plenty of game ahead.
“My kids seem to struggle with getting ahead and getting complacent, coasting and hitting cruise control,” Arredondo said. “We won the last game 15-12, prior to this game, we were up 11-0. That’s where right now I told them we have to put the gas pedal down and keep it down. They did a great job of that. It shows that they learn from their mistakes and move forward.”
Arredondo was referring to his team’s first game on Saturday where they defeated the Murieta Bulldogs, 15-12. On Saturday alone, Militia’s expert hitting drove in 35 total runs between the two games.
Although posting double digit runs in two games is outstanding, Militia’s pitching and defense did a masterful job of keeping Wasatch’s hits in play and keeping them off base. Arredondo explained that his rotation will benefit from the extra rest.
“I have two or three starting pitchers who are aces. They can come in and throw complete games, they average anywhere from 8-10 pitches an inning. That’s key in this age group, it helps with (the tournament) only giving us seven innings per tournament, it saves the lives of arms. I could throw guys yesterday in a game and I didn’t need to throw them today. They can have a day’s rest before tomorrow.”
Arredondo explained that the confidence the team is showing is well deserved but that in the game of baseball, one swing can change a lot of things on the field, but also in the team’s heads.
“I also have two kids right now who are on like 24-game hitting streaks, one of which ended today for the first time. That was kind of key, his head was getting a little big, and I think it brought him back down to earth and he’s like ‘okay yeah I need to be working hard and paying attention, this doesn’t come easy.’”
The player who saw his hit streak come to an end that Arredondo is describing is 13-year-old Adrian Carrillo, who said he felt pretty good about his hit streak when he stepped up to the plate but was “a little nervous” because he didn’t want to see it end yet. Carrillo said his favorite pitch to hit is the fastball because it’s “the easiest one to hit.”
12-year-old Brody Wilkerson explained that the 35 runs in two games will help boost the team morale going into tomorrow’s matchups.
“It’s just builds it all up,” Wilkerson said. “It builds a lot of confidence for all of us so we can do good in all of our next games.”
Wilkerson explained simply that his favorite part of playing for Militia is hitting and “how much work we do with hitting and how (the coaches) help us hit.”
“Being able to go back to the hotels, swim in the pool, enjoy some fun time and group bonding. We’re real big on bonding, the team bonding, and the kids bonding together. We’re like a big family,” Arredondo said. “Right now it’s key that they’re relaxed and feeling good and feeling the momentum, feeling like they can’t be beat. And they’re going to go into tomorrow with their confidence high.”