Mustangs lift baseball mark to 17-1, eye league opener

The season couldn’t have gone much better thus far for Shadow Ridge’s baseball team.

But coach Frank Tousa knows the real season starts today. He reminded his players that nonleague wins don’t count for much Monday after the Mustangs earned a 5-2 home victory over Bonanza to raise their record to 17-1.

“They’re playing well,” Tousa said. “We just kind of explained to them right now that it doesn’t matter what we’ve done up to this point if they slip and don’t do what we’re supposed to do in division. If you go 20-1 in nonconference games, it doesn’t matter if you don’t make the playoffs.”

As they have most of the season, the Mustangs got strong pitching Monday, with Cory Royer going the distance, scattering six hits, striking out seven and walking two. Shadow Ridge has allowed more than four runs only three times.

“(Royer) threw well,” Tousa said. “All of our starting pitchers have thrown well this year. We try to get them to pound the strike zone and good things will happen.”

Royer did that, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of 31 batters.

“It’s an easier game when you get ahead of hitters,” Tousa said.

Shadow Ridge’s offense never really got rolling, but the Mustangs got some timely hits and took advantage of some miscues by Bonanza (10-7).

Alec Pittsenbarger blooped a double to left to lead off the first inning and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Travis Caskie. Ben Fitzhugh delivered an RBI single to left, and Shadow Ridge kept the lead the rest of the way.

Two runs scored on a throwing error by Bonanza shortstop Daniel Romero in the third, and the Mustangs got a run in the fifth when Bonanza right fielder Brett Doyle lost a ball in the sun and Alex Ayers ended up with a two-out RBI triple.

Pittsenbarger added an RBI single in the sixth.

“We’ve had different people step up every game; it’s somebody different,” Tousa said. “That’s kind of the success we’ve had this year of getting somebody on, bunting them to second and getting a clutch hit.”

Shadow Ridge hosts Durango in the first Northwest League game of the season at 3:30 p.m. today.

“We’ve played some tough competition and competed very well with teams in the city,” Tousa said. “Hopefully we can keep that going into a tough division.”

Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.

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