TUCSON – It was the third time Canyon del Oro and Nogales would face off this season.
Would CDO avenge the two losses earlier in the season, or would the Apaches continue to dominate?
Those were the questions on everyone’s minds coming into this 4A state baseball semifinals.
No. 1 Nogales started junior Mark Lopez (10-0), who gave up only one hit and no runs over the last two post-season games.
On Wednesday night, Lopez was dealing—not giving up a hit until the fifth inning or a run until the sixth—as Nogales defeated CDO 5-3 at Hi Corbett Field.
“I thought Marky is hot, give him the ball,” said Nogales coach OJ Favela. “He had a 1.22 ERA and struck out 77 batters coming into this game.”
In the other semifinal of the night, No. 2 Salpointe Catholic defeated No. 6 Marcos de Niza 4-3. The Apaches will play the Lancers in the 4A finals Saturday at Hi Corbett Field.
The Apaches are primed to win this time out—something they haven’t done since 1981.
“My dad was on the coaching staff of the 1981 championship team,” Favela said. “I was in the stands for that one. My dad brought in a signed baseball from that team. The signatures are all yellow and he said ‘It’s your turn in 2017. I want another one.’”
Lopez added: “Since our preseason, we’ve been saying ‘Let’s take state.’ We have the confidence we’re going to go out and play some good ball.”
It was a pitchers’ duel for the first three innings, as CDO’s Mason Myhre and Lopez matched each other fairly closely. The lines: Lopez struck out five, walked none, and had no hits. Myhre struck out seven and walked 2 and gave up one hit — Ralph Padilla’s triple to the left field wall.
“Both pitchers were doing an awesome job, for what, the first four innings?” Favela said. “They battled, and CDO has a great tradition. They are a great competitor. It’s hard to beat a team three times.”
Nogales scored the first run of the game in the fourth on an error as CDO catcher Enrique Romero tried to pick off a runner at first base.
The Apaches scored four more runs in the fifth on walks, a hit batter and an error by the Dorados. Nogales would only tally one hit—a two-RBI double to left field by Marcel Bachelier on a 3-2 pitch by Alex Ivanoff, who had replaced Myrhe three batters earlier.
The Dorados rallied in their half of the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits. Lopez gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, and one walk.