By Tanner Puckett
The 13u Warhawks Baseball-Dodson squad brought some of the Colorado chill with them Friday to the desert as they cooled the bats of VCBA for a 2-0 win in their first game of pool play during the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships.
The victory was powered by two strong showings from Warhawk pitchers Brock Lansville and Jack Perotti, who combined to limit VCBA (Thousand Oaks, CA) to two hits.
“I thought our pitchers were outstanding,” head coach Brooks Dodson said. “Brock started us out very well. He established his fastball, had good location and total command. Jack came in and gave much of the same but from the left side, working his breaking ball and off-speed stuff.”
Lansville and Perotti, throwing three and four innings respectively, were at their best with runners in scoring position. VCBA batters were 0-for-12 with nine strikeouts and three walks in those chances.
“That’s a point of emphasis for us. You’re always one pitch away from getting yourself in a situation where you’re going to have to bear down,” Dodson said.
The first situation came early, in the top of the first inning. VCBA’s Cade Falsken connected for a loud a leadoff triple, followed by a walk and stolen base by Michael Moran to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Lansville responded by striking out the next two batters and inducing a short popup to second base.
A similar situation came in the final inning, when a hit batter, flyout to right field and single to center put Perotti in a tough spot on the mound. He worked back to strike out the final two batters of the game, the final pitch a full, sweeping breaking ball that induced an empty swing.
Perotti said there’s no change in his approach when the pressure is on. “My dad always taught me, no matter what happens, just throw,” he said.
Though Perotti had already thrown three innings before taking the mound again in the seventh, the coaching staff didn’t hesitate to give him the ball again.
“He was in total control,” Dodson said. “His pitch count was low. When he got to his fourth inning, he was only at 41 pitches. He was in control and it was his game to win.”
In addition to their poised performances on the mound, Lansville and Perotti drove in both of the Warhawks’ runs in the contest.
Perotti delivered in the first with a deep triple to give the Warhawks the lead. Lansville added a late insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with a single.
“I was just trying to do my job and at least move the runner into scoring position,” Perotti said.
Both runs were scored by William Garduno, who finished the day with a triple, two walks and two stolen bases. His stolen bases were responsible for moving him into scoring position before the big hits from Perotti and Lansville.
Speed on the basepaths is an asset Garduno tries to use to the fullest. “When I get on base, I try to set my team up to score,” he said.
Though clutch hits and strong pitching took the spotlight in today’s game, a strong defensive effort from the Warhawks’ Macoy Terry saved what would have easily been a game-tying hit in the third.
With runners on the corners, Terry quickly gloved a line shot to first, stepping on the bag for the unassisted double play and keeping the shutout intact.
Perhaps most impressive is that the Warhawks delivered the strong all-around performance on little rest. Most of the team was delayed due to the inclement weather in Colorado.
“Half of the team got in last night, the other half got in Wednesday,” Dodson said. “Due to that we were a little lethargic at the plate – we had some tired kids.”
This was also just the second weekend of the year that the team was able to compete outside, which can always have an impact with preparation.
“We’ve been stuck in cages. To get out here and compete like they did, you can tell they’re hungry,” Dodson said.
Despite the fatigue and lack of outdoor playing time, the Warhawks didn’t seem fazed when all was said and done. Dodson is right – the hunger shows.
“It feels awesome to start with a win,” Garduno said. “We’re going to roll with that and we’re going to go far.”