HESPERIA • With DSL play about to begin, the Aztecs are putting the finishing touches on a nearly unblemished non-league schedule.
The Barstow baseball team traveled to Hesperia on Tuesday, and found itself locked in an extra-innings battle. By the time it was over, the Aztecs were on top, 9-6.
Barstow took the game's first lead, before a four-run fifth put the Scorpions ahead. That gave the home team some momentum, but not enough to keep the Aztecs down.
It was a good day for Aztecs catcher Storm Phillips. He drove in his team's first runs with a second-inning two-RBI single, then drove in another run in the eighth. Defensively, his tenacity behind the plate also contributed to the victory.
"Phillips was a beast today, he must have had 20 blocks. He was a wall back there, nothing got past him," said Aztecs head coach Kenny Phillips. "Things could have really gotten out of hand a couple of times if those balls had gotten away."
Hesperia got a run back in the third, then scored four in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. After each side scored once in the sixth, Barstow still trailed by one going into the seventh.
"We huddled before we went to bat in the seventh, and the guys weren't down, they still had high spirits. We talked about winning and losing as a team and showing character," said coach Phillips. "I could tell something was going to happen."
Sean Schoffstahl got it going by drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second. Colin Klein followed with a single, and Austin Duran brought them in with a single. Phillips then hit Duran in.
"Duran hasn't had much practice lately and he came through bigtime," said coach Phillips. "He and Phillips both driving in three runs were game-breakers."
Austin Crank started for the Aztecs and pitched the first five innings. Zeke Heanelt tossed the last three, leaving the bases loaded in the eighth, to get the win.
"Hesperia fought back with those four runs in the fifth, but we took the heart out of them with our comeback in the seventh," said Phillips. "They were loud the whole game, and we took their voice away."
The Aztecs are 4-1 with the win, while the Scorpions are now 3-6.
Barstow begins Desert Sky League play with its next game, at Burroughs on Friday. The next home match is April 3 against Silverado.