by Andrew Luberda
The Broncos baseball team visited the undefeated Campo Verde Coyotes in the conference opener for both teams. The Coyotes remained undefeated as they out-slugged the Broncos 18-8.
Broncos starting pitcher Alex Jensen started the game in fine fashion as he struck out the first two Coyotes’ batters he faced. From there, however, Jensen was not as effective. With two outs in the inning, Jensen issued three walks and allowed a couple of hits which resulted in three runs for the Coyotes.
The Broncos’ bats came alive in the second inning. Tim Arden’s RBI double scored Dustin Blevins. After a passed ball by the Coyotes, Zach Rosten’s two-out RBI single scored Arden to make the score 3-2. The scoring ended there as Rosten was picked off first base to end the inning.
The Coyotes scored three more runs in the second inning. Again, Jensen had difficulty finding the strike zone. The Coyotes would have scored more runs in the second if not for a nice play by C Tyler Ervin to throw out a Coyotes base runner on a stolen base attempt.
Jensen acknowledged it wasn’t his best outing but he knows he can make the necessary adjustments. Coach Stevens agreed with Jensen’s self-assessment.
“I just [have to] come out and throw strikes more consistently,” Jensen said. “I’ve been pitching a little selfish just trying to strike everyone out. I just [have to] get my team involved.”
“He just needs to go with the team concept of pitching to contact and getting the ball in play,” Stevens said. “We’re on the same page with that now.”
Lead-off hitter Wyatt Pattyson started the third inning with a single. The next hitter, Sal Martinez, singled on a perfectly executed hit-and-run sending Pattyson to third. Martinez was thrown out trying to reach second. Tyler Ervin followed with a sacrifice fly, which scored Pattyson and made the score 6-3.
Tim Arden came on in the third inning to relieve Jensen and threw two scoreless innings. Arden retired the first five batters he faced. Arden’s pitching performance kept the Broncos close and in position to get back in the game.
In the fifth inning the Broncos rallied. Three consecutive singles by Aaron Kern, Rosten and Pattyson loaded the bases with the 2-3-4-5 hitters coming up. After a Coyotes pitching change, Sal Martinez worked a bases loaded walk to score one run. Ervin hit into a fielder’s choice and Alex Merriman was retired on a flyout. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Dustin Blevins reached safely on a dropped third strike scoring Pattyson.
Alex Jensen was up next and hit a two-out, three-run triple scoring Martinez, Ervin and Blevins. Jensen’s hit gave the Broncos the lead, 8-6.
“I knew I [had to] help my team out,” Jensen said. [With] the bases loaded I just had to put a ball in play.”
After pitching two scoreless innings, Arden experienced the power of the Coyotes’ hitters. Arden issued a lead-off walk before giving up four consecutive hits, including a 3-run home run. Coach Stevens made a pitching change and brought in Dustin Blevins. Arden said he threw too many fastballs.
“We needed more off-speed [pitches] and it was all fastballs that inning,” said Arden.
The Coyotes’ attack didn’t stop after the pitching change as they scored a total of 12 runs in the fifth to end the game.
Despite the bad inning, Coach Stevens is pleased with the progress his ball club is making. He wasn’t as surprised, as some might be, with the Broncos comeback in the top of the fifth inning.
Why? Because they’d done it before.
“We’ve had one game already this year [where] we’re down seven, came back and won the game,” he said. “We just kept chipping away, not trying to get all the runs in one inning.”
“I was really proud of my guys’ resilience there,” Steven continued. “We put ourselves in a position to be able to close out a game and [the Coyotes] stepped up and had a whole bunch of big hits in a row and had a great inning there.”
The Broncos upcoming schedule is Mar. 1 vs. Williams Field, Mar. 5 at Williams Field, Mar. 6 vs. Higley and Mar. 7 at Arcadia.