Tribe looks to stay on top of LPAA
The Yuma High School baseball team could go far with pitching like this.
Hurlers Paul Brophy, Chase McCreath and Fabian Salcido combined for 30 strikeouts, two base on balls, six hits and zero runs in a 10-0, 10-0 sweep of Akron, Monday in a doubleheader at Tribe Field rescheduled from Saturday.
“I think you saw how good our starting pitchers can be,” coach Brady Nighswonger said. “Paul hadn’t pitched in a while so it was good to him back out there throwing so well. It was really good to see Chase out there doing that, and Fabian got the job done in the one inning he was out there.”
The sweep leaves the Indians 8-1 overall, 8-0 in Lower Platte Activities Association play. Akron was the first 2A LPAA school Yuma has played this season, leaving the Tribe 2-0 against 2A District 2 competition.
Next up is Wiggins on Saturday in another LPAA 2A double dip at Tribe Field.
“Wiggins will be a tough matchup,” Nighswonger said. “There are going to be some great games the rest of the season.”
Yuma is ranked No. 3 in 2A (CHSAANow.com polls), behind only Peyton and Dayspring Christian, and was No. 5 in the 2A Rating Percentage Index as of Friday (though the RPI changes on a daily basis). Nighswonger noted all games, league and non-league, are important thanks to the RPI, which will seed the regional field, explaining that the higher the seed, the more favorable the first matchup when the season gets to that point.
Wray is 4-2 overall in LPAA play after splitting with Caliche last Saturday. Holyoke was 1-1 in league play prior to this past Tuesday’s twin bill with Wiggins, who was 5-1 in league play after playing the LPAA’s 1A schools, sweeping Merino and Caliche, but splitting with Haxtun this past Saturday.
Holyoke is at Haxtun on Saturday for two.
Wray has a non-league home-and-home with Burlington this week. Akron, 0-6 in league play, does not have any league games this week, and Merino and Caliche play two on the hill near Iliff on Saturday.
If Yuma can keep playing complete games like it did this past Monday, it will not really matter what anybody else in the league does.
“I think there are going to be a lot of splits (by the other league teams),” Nighswonger said.
However, the Indians have had a knack through the years of starting strong then hitting a dry spell. The challenge is to just keep it rolling in 2019.
“We aren’t in shape yet so no one’s been overworked to this point,” Nighswonger said. “Hopefully, we’ll be reaching our peak in a couple of weeks instead of getting burned out.”
Senior Paul Brophy was back on the hill for Monday’s opener. He had cruised through his first two starts, but was roughed up in a non-league loss to Brush on March 21.
The lefty missed last week’s sweep of Merino while undergoing his final chemo treatment for testicular cancer.
He definitely showed no ill effects Monday against Akron, striking out 10 in four innings while shutting out the Rams on three hits and zero walks. The only outs that did not come via strike out was a sacrifice bunt in the first, when Akron led off the game with a single, and a foul ball popup Brophy tracked down along the third-base line in the fourth.
The defense did its part behind him with just one error, and the offense chipped in with 11 hits. Salcido came on in the fifth and made it stand up by striking out three while allowing one hit and one walk.
Brophy had to deal with traffic on the base paths in the fourth, when Akron led off with consecutive singles, followed two outs later with an error to load the bases. However, he got a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat.
The Indians gave Brophy all the runs he needed in the home half of the first. Manny Tena and Chase McCreath drew one-out walks, and Trevor Salzman made it count with a two-run double to left. Brophy helped his own cause one out later with one-run single, scoring Salzman.
Yuma plated four more runs in the third. McCreath, Salzman and Steven Wells led off with consecutive singles, McCreath and Salzman scoring on Wells’ hit, then Wells and Brophy, who reached on an error, scoring on Conner McCoy’s double to right-center.
McCreath led off the fourth with a single, and Salzman followed with a run-scoring double. Salzman scored on McCoy’s single. The Indians then got the game called on the 10-run rule in the fifth when Christian Hawley reached base, and eventually scored the 10th run on McCreath’s bases loaded single.
Salzman went 3-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI and three runs. McCreath was 3-for-3 with one RBI and three runs, McCoy 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI, Wells one hit, two RBI and one run, Giovanny Rodriguez one hit, and Manny Tena, Hawley and Ross one run each.
McCreath showcased his considerable pitching prowess in the nightcap. The junior had command of all his pitches, twirling a two-hit shutout over six innings, striking out 17 and walking one, which came with two outs in the sixth. The only out made in the field was a popup to second base in the fifth.
The defense again did its job with no errors — though it had a limited number of chances — and the offense rapped out 11 hits.
Nighswonger noted that one downside to so many strikeouts is the defense does not get much fielding work.
“That’s a huge concern,” he said. “As nice as it is for those strike outs to happen, you do miss out on live ball reps. As we go deeper into the season, we’re going to see less strikeouts, so we need to be ready in the field. We’ll just simulate it in practice as much as we can and hope we’ll be ready.”
The offense again gave its starting pitcher all the runs he needed in the first winning. The Indians plated four runs. Tena hit a single, followed by a walk to McCreath. Both scored on Salzman’s double to right center. Salzman scored on a single by Wells, who then scored on a wild pitch.
Tena reached on an error in the second and McCreath followed with a single. Both scored on Salzman’s second two-run double of the game.
Alex Falconburg hit a solo homer to left in the third. Tena then reached on a double and scored on McCreath’s single.
Yuma went scoreless in the fourth and fifth, but got the game called in the sixth with two more runs. McCreath led off with a single, and Joey Ross singled up the middle two outs later. Rodriguez then hit a single into the gap in right center to score both of them for the final runs.
McCreath helped himself by going 3-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Salzman hit two doubles with four RBI and one run, Tena had two hits with a double and three runs, Falconburg the solo home run to left, Wells one hit, one RBI and one run, Rodriguez one hit and two RBI, Cayden Lynch three runs, and Ross one hit and one run.
“I thought we did a good job with our bats, but we need to do a better job with two strikes,” Nighswonger said. We need to do a better job of putting the ball in play in those situations.”