The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks came away with an 18-8 victory when they hosted the Tucson High Badgers on April 5.
The win came with the help of a grand slam from Nighthawks’ senior Brandon Smith in the bottom of the second inning. With bases loaded, and just a 2-0 advantage for the Nighthawks, Smith said the team needed a boost.
“We really needed that,” said Smith. “Things weren’t looking that great for us early on. It felt good coming off that bat, and the reaction was great.”
The big hit gave the Nighthawks a 6-0 lead, sending Trey Stine, Ryan Windish, Travis Chavez, and Smith home.
The Badgers managed to rally in the top of the third, scoring four runs to bring the score to 7-4.
The Badgers couldn’t continue their streak in the top of the fourth after three quick outs sent the Nighthawks offense back on the field.
“Let’s close this out, white,” said Nighthawks’ head coach Dennis Toia.
And close it out they did.
The Nighthawks scored six more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to pull further ahead. An RBI by Chavez sent Windish home for the first score of the inning. Smith stole second base, and a hit by Stephen Meyer sent Chavez home and Smith to third.
Kyle Petty continued the rally by connecting to left field, sending Chavez and Ethan Oglesby home to bring the score to 11-4.
Stine and Windish finished off the inning strong for the Nighthawks, each earning a hit to give Petty and John Howard the final two runs of the inning.
Things were looking good for the Nighthawks going into the fifth, but Smith said there was no reason to let down.
“We had just played Tucson in the Cherry Field Classic,” said Smith. “They knew our tendencies. We needed to continue from that with a team effort.”
The Nighthawks managed to go 5-0 in that tournament, and in the process, win the tournament. Smith and the Nighthawks are looking to continue that success in their run to the state tournament.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” said Smith. “We are looking to get a high seed and win it all this year.”
The Nighthawks proved their determination for the duration of the game, scoring five more runs to close the game out with a ten run advantage. Scoring in the bottom of the sixth were John Howard, Stine, Devon Harrison, Chavez, and Smith.
Smith said the team is looking to continue its success by taking one game at a time and not losing focus.
“Sometimes there are games we focus too much on the name of the team we are playing,” he said. “We need to continue to focus on the task at hand. We are looking to win it all this year.”
The Nighthawks managed another win on Friday, beating the Marana Tigers 3-0. They hold a 15-4 record, and are on track to beat the school record of 22 wins in a season.
Tucson fell to 14-7 on the season.