After defeating Salpointe 8-7 at the Salpointe tournament recently in an early-round game, there was hope that the Marana High School Tigers baseball team might be ready to take a step toward beating some of Tucson’s powerhouses.
That was until pitcher Trevor Griffin of the Catalina Foothills Falcons held them to one hit, resulting in the Falcons win over Marana, 11-1, last Tuesday on Marana turf.
“We’re on spring break,” said Marana’s baseball coach John Sugameli. “We’ve played 10 games in 12 days.”
That’s a lot of games, but most of them won’t stand out in the records that count. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the win over Salpointe didn’t figure in the power points or in the team’s overall record, which now stands at 1-4.
Brandon Wilson, Tanner Reeves and Ryan Valdez each hit triples for the Tigers in helping them score eight runs during that tournament game.
“I see some huge improvements,” Sugameli said. “This is a good group of kids. The games have been closer.”
The Falcons, last year’s state runners-up, wasted little time, as they scored five runs in the second inning. The big blow came on a three-run home run by Falcon A.J. Muscarello.
The Tigers mounted a threat of their own in their half of the second. Turner Reeves walked. Zach Henderson singled, and Casey Hilde walked to load the bases with one out. David Tinsley smoked a line drive down the first-base line, but Falcon Preston Jamison made a great catch and stepped on first to complete a double-play.
After Pen Nakazoto homered, Foothills took advantage of two Marana errors to score three times in the fourth. The Falcons ended the game with two outs in the fifth for an 11-1 lead, and a shortened win via the 10-run rule.
On the positive side, the Tigers made only two errors in the five innings.
“We probably made eight or nine a game last year,” Sugameli admitted.
Last year, the Tigers were in their first year under Sugameli and failed to make the playoffs in a transition year. Sugameli sees the improvement in this year’s squad.
“We have leadership from our five seniors – Mike Nade, Ryan Valdez, Josef Merki, Casey Hilde, and Brandon Wilson. We’re losing games by (only) one run this year.”
On Friday, the Tigers closed out the week by defeating Amphi, 4-3.
“We only have 12 players,” Sugameli said. “But that’s okay. This is a good group of kids.”