BARSTOW • There have been games this season where the Barstow baseball team has come up short due to a lack of offense. In its latest match, hitting wasn't a problem; it was getting those baserunners home.
The Aztecs hosted a non-leaguer against Serrano on Thursday, and outhit the Diamondbacks by a 15-8 margin. Nine runners, however, were left on base as Barstow lost in 10 innings, 8-5.
The home team came back twice to tie it up and force those three extra frames. But in the seven regulation innings the Aztecs had several opportunities to put Serrano away, including loading the bases twice with less than two outs, and just couldn't close the deal.
"This was a heartbreaker," said a weary head coach Roland Fite when it was finally over. "Twice we could've blown it wide open and we didn't put the dagger in. We got some nice hits, but not in the right spots."
The Aztecs were hitting the whole game, getting at least one hit in every inning but the tenth. Despite the multiple hits, there was only more than one run scored in a frame once, a two-run third. The highlight came off the bat of Colin Klein, who roped a two-RBI double to right driving in Anthony Mestas, who singled, and Billy McCall, who reached on a fielder's choice.
The problem was, too many other times, there were opportunities for big innings that never materialized. The fifth was kicked off by back-to-back-to-back singles by Mestas, Klein and Austin Willis, which chased Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Cole Sanderson. Devin Fouse took over on the hill and walked Austin Crank, forcing in a run. But then Fouse notched a strikeout and induced a 4-4-3 double play, leaving the Aztecs with just one run scored out of a bases-loaded none-out situation.
The bags were also left juiced in the seventh. The Aztecs entered the frame trailing, 4-3, and tied it up to force extra innings, but had a golden opportunity to get the win. Willis tapped a one-out single up the middle, followed by a single from Crank and a walk to Marcus Madero. Again, a walk forced in a run, but a strikeout and ground out left the score tied.
Serrano got a run in the top of the ninth, as Kevin Copeland singled, stole a base and scored on an error. But again, Barstow tied it up, as Crank led off the bottom half by sending a pitch over the right field fence, making it a 5-5 game.
It was three runs in the tenth that gave the D-backs the win. One of those runs came on a close play at the plate in which Serrano got the call, but it didn't end up deciding the game.
"We made a couple of nice comebacks, but we didn't get the hits when we needed them," said Fite. "It's a tough loss. We really needed this one for a confidence booster."
It wasn't a win, but some batting averages improved. Mestas went 3-for-5, as did Willis, who also knocked in a run. Crank singled twice in addition to going deep, with two RBI, Billy McCall doubled, and David Hodge singled twice.
Crank started and pitched six effective innings, giving up three runs on three hits, walking four and striking out nine.
There are two games left for the Aztecs, and they're pivotal ones, with the outcomes determining whether the team will play in the postseason. It's a home-and-away series with Silverado, at home on Tuesday and at Victorville next Thursday.
The Hawks are having a tough season, with an overall record of 2-20, and 0-10 in the Desert Sky League. But with everything on the line for Barstow, the last thing Fite wants is for his team to get complacent.
"We can't take them lightly," said the coach. "Silverado would love to play spoiler next week. We'll have to be on our game."
Tuesday is the last home game of the season, and the Aztec seniors will be honored prior to the 3:15 p.m. start.