By the bottom of the third inning, Canyon Del Oro’s Brandon Burke had grown tired of trading runs with the visiting inner-district rival Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks.
So, he did something about it.
With one out and two runners on, Burke nailed a three-run homer to give the Dorados a four-run lead – one the Nighthawks would never recover from.
“I was coming out ready to swing it,” said Burke. “It got us going in the dugout, and we fed off of that.”
The Dorados would go on to finish the inning with two more runs after Nick Ames connected at bat, sending Erick Migueles and Ryan Bronson home.
“We’re keeping it up,” said Burke about the Dorados’ batting performance. “Ever since the Salpointe tournament we’ve been swinging it, and we brought it over into the power-point game today.”
The big third inning was exactly what the Dorados needed to calm down and play the game out.
“I think early on we were a little bit nervous or maybe just excited, knowing this was a big game,” said CDO coach Stephen Ambuehl. “Ironwood Ridge is a very good team, and they’re rolling off wins, but we had to protect our field. Once we got our feet under us, and put the pressure on them, our defense responded.”
That defense was led largely by sophomore pitcher Max Smith, who gave up just one run in the final four innings of play.
“He never got rattled,” said Ambuehl. “He showed so much poise as a sophomore, and he’s proven he can play on this stage and throw against anybody.”
The Dorados ended the game by forcing three quick outs in the top of the seventh inning.
Ambuehl says the win could mean big things for the confidence of the Dorados moving forward.
“Every time we have notched a big win - that’s what we talk about most - is knowing that you belong on this stage,” he said. “You have to play well to win against good teams, and Ironwood Ridge is good, and that’s why we’re so happy to win this game.”
Despite the loss, the Nighthawks saw a big game from Travis Chavez, who hit one double and earned two runs to go with one RBI.
Still, Nighthawks’ coach Dennis Toia said an entire team effort would be needed to beat the Dorados leading into their second meeting of the season, which took place at Ironwood Ridge yesterday afternoon.
“We need to be getting ahead, throwing strikes, and hitting clutch two-out hits – the same recipe that got us (this loss) today,” he said. “Our solid senior-led lineup and great work ethic will also have to play into it.”
The results of the second match were not available before press time.
The Dorados improve to 12-4 on the season, while the Nighthawks move to 14-3.