Quality relief pitching is sometimes hard to find, even in the major leagues.
Cimarron-Memorial's bullpen showed how it is done Monday.
Alex Harker and Josh Nuernberg combined to throw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, stranding a pair of runners at third as the Spartans defeated visiting Arbor View 7-4 to remain in first place in the Northwest League.
"Harker has been doing well in that role all year for us. He came in and kept us right where we needed to be," Cimarron coach Mike Hubel said. "And then Josh comes in and slams the door."
Harker entered with a runner at third and two outs in the top of the fifth, with Cimarron (19-5, 11-1 Northwest League) trailing 4-3. He struck out Ryan Chen, who had doubled off the left-field fence in his previous at-bat, to end the threat.
Harker struck out the side in the sixth after Cimarron had taken a 5-4 lead.
The Spartans scored two more runs in the sixth to give Nuernberg some cushion. And after allowing a leadoff triple to Jordan Godman, Nuernberg stormed through the heart of Arbor View's batting order.
He struck out Evan McMahan after McMahan fouled off five two-strike pitches, then got Zach Quintana to pop out to second and retired Tyler LeBaron on a fly ball to right to end the game.
Cimarron starter Matt Mosca was solid, allowing seven hits in 4 2/3 innings and striking out nine.
The victory gave Cimarron a season sweep over Arbor View (24-4, 9-2) and a leg up in the Northwest race. The Spartans had lost to Shadow Ridge on Thursday, helping Arbor View pull within a half game.
"Losing that game put us back in a tie with (Arbor View), and this game was for all the marbles," Hubel said. "We've still got two really tough games this week, and we've got to win those and see what happens. But now we're back in the driver's seat."
The bottom of the order triggered much of Cimarron's offense. No. 8 hitter Drew Danzeisen was 2-for-2 with a run and two RBIs. No. 7 hitter Niko Decolati and No. 9 hitter Effie Garcia each added a hit and a run.
"The bottom of our order has been fairly good for us all year long," Hubel said. "That's the part of your lineup that picks you up, and that's what wins you ballgames."
Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.