More or less, baseball is a game of timing. Put together timely hitting with timely defense and pitching and you have a formula for winning.
Desert Vista came away with big outs when it needed them en route to a 9-2 victory over Red Mountain Friday afternoon in the Desert Vista Invitational.
Desert Vista lefty Garret Brandt picked up the win, pitching five innings of one-run ball while working out of jams nearly every inning. His defense came up with two double plays and two caught stealing in the first three innings. Brandt may not have had his best stuff, giving up eight hits, but he came through with good pitches when he needed to.
"When they had people in scoring position we made good pitches and played defense," Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich said. "That was the difference."
Desert Vista (3-2) staked itself to an early 3-0 lead with a two-run double from Casey Thomas in the first inning. Thomas added to that lead in the third inning, with a two-run home run to straight away center that extended the lead to 5-0.
Thomas finished the day 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and four RBIs.
"I've been focusing on driving the ball up the middle and that's what I did today," Thomas said.
Red Mountain (4-3) had scoring opportunities, but was never able to cash in on them.
"You get 10 hits in a game and you expect to score more than two runs," Red Mountain coach Jason Grantham said. "We just didn't get the timely hits."
Cole Gleason's opposite-field home run broke up Brandt's shutout in the fifth inning. Gleason, one of the state's top prospects, went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk for the Lions.
The Thunder roughed up Red Mountain starter Michael Gwynn. Gwynn threw four innings and gave up five runs on seven hits.
Desert Vista's Ryan Modi made the day difficult on Gwynn from the start, leading off with an infield single. Modi finished 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI. Catcher Shaun Chase threw out two runners and went 2 for 4 with an RBI at the plate.
One of the biggest concerns of Luketich is playing sound defense, Thomas said. That message hit home Friday for the Thunder.
Desert Vista's defense preserved the early lead, allowing the team to play with more confidence throughout the game.
"We played better defense and if you play good defense, you'll have a chance to win," Luketich said.
Kemp is an Arizona State freshman majoring in journalism.