Two-out rallies can completely change the complexion of a game.
The offense gets all fired up in the dugout while extending the inning batter by batter as the runs keep scoring, while the defense goes from thinking it’s one pitch away from being back in the dugout to having the pitcher throw extra pitches and the scoreboard change in the other team’s favor.
It doesn’t always decide the outcome, but in the moment, it swings the momentum.
The East Valley Region opener for Westwood and Red Mountain did both as the Mountain Lions scored six-runs with two outs in the third inning on the way to a 10-0, sixth-inning game Monday.
“It’s huge,” Red Mountain senior third baseman Riley Pagel said. “It’s killer when you are on defense. They got two quick outs on us, but Randy (Hutson) got us started and then we had great at bats after great at bat. It’s changes the game.”
Pagel had a three-run double on the rally against Westwood starter Jimmy Villa, Tyler Rice ended in the sixth with a double to right field with two on to put the mercy rule into action.
“We put together some good at bats today, especially in the two-out rally,” Red Mountain coach Ross Pagel said. “That was something we really struggled with last year, but we’ve done a better job of putting the ball in play in those situations.”
Westwood had its chances against Red Mountain starter Kai Murphy, but he either got a pickoff (in the first), a groundball (bases loaded in the fifth) or a strikeout (in the sixth) with runners on base for the Mountain Lions (10-7, 1-0)
“I felt like we were getting hits, but that lefty does a great job of stopping the run game,” Westwood coach JR Langston said. “I couldn’t really do a whole lot. He’s good and we couldn’t get the big hit.”
Westwood (8-5, 0-1) had two hit games from Manny Collier, Francisco Cardenas and Macs Carrillo, but it wasn’t enough against the Oregon State recruit.
Murphy, the son of former Arizona State coach Pat Murphy, has won five straight starts, allowing only one earned run over that time and has thrown 28 straight scoreless innings.
“I’ve been able to work with guys like (former ASU pitcher) Josh Spence and (former Vanderbilt pitching coach) Derek Johnson,” Murphy said. “It started with the Corona game (Feb. 28) and I came out of it feeling it good. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned (from Spence and Johnson) to the mound and it’s made me a better pitcher physically and mentally.”
It worked well to record his fourth straight scoreless outing as he gave up eight hits, walked three and struck out seven to improve to 5-1.
Over his last four outings, Murphy has thrown 26 innings while allowing 20 hits, no runs, seven walks and 29 strikeouts.
“The thing I’ve noticed is the fastball is getting people out now,” coach Pagel said. “Last year, he had to set everything up before using it. Now, he’s hitting 85-86. He uses it as a weapon now instead of just a pitch he has to go to. He’s really been on a roll.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.