Sedona Red Rock Junior High School’s baseball team picked up wins over two teams to which it had previously lost en route to the Verde Valley Athletic Association championship on Saturday, April 22.
The championship game, played at Sedona Red Rock High School, saw a back-and-forth matchup between the Scorpions and Camp Verde Middle School, who was undefeated on the season.
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“In the end we were able to accomplish our goal of winning a championship,” Scorpions head coach Pedro Ortega said. “I’m proud of these kids for executing the game plan. Hats off to Camp Verde, they played well, they’re a great team and it made for a great championship game.”
Before taking on the Cowboys, Red Rock had to beat Clarkdale-Jerome School on Friday, April 21.
Red Rock eighth grader Nate Ross pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up two earned runs on five hits, struck out six and walked one.
The Scorpions were up 2-1 before taking a commanding 8-1 lead with a six-run fourth inning. Clarkdale scored two in the fifth, but Red Rock advanced to the finals with the 8-3 win.
“I asked them for one whole week to think just about baseball,” Ortega said. “They put their mind to it and got the effort.”
The championship against the Cowboys was not as simple. Red Rock, playing as the visitors, got off to a hot start with a four-run first inning.
Ortega talked about how defense was the foundation of the team’s game plan, because its offense could do the job to provide run support.
But the Scorpions’ offense went cold as Camp Verde’s began to warm up, with the help of five Red Rock defensive errors.
The Cowboys scored one run in the first, two in the third and three in the fourth inning to take a 6-4 lead.
“I explained to them that things don’t always go the right way, and they have to move on to the next play,” Ortega said. “We were able to compensate with our bats.”
With three outs left, the Scorpions scored two runs to send it to extra innings. Their defense held Camp Verde scoreless, and three runs in the top of the sixth gave secured the 9-6 lead that would hold.
The Scorpions racked up 12 hits, and eighth-grade pitcher Joe Johnson gave up just one earned run on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. Johnson was named the tournament MVP.
Ross and eighth-grader Jaiah Gordin were also named to the All-Tournament team.