After only two innings into the game, Canyon del Oro High School pitcher Sam Hamlett was desperate to shake things up.
By then, the starter already had hurled 54 pitches and walked three batters.
“I knew I’d have to change up,” Hamlett, a senior, said.
And that’s exactly what he and his teammates on the CDO boys baseball team did. As a result, the Dorados (9-2 in power-point games) defeated the Sabino High School Sabercats (12-1) by an 8-3 score.
Hamlett ended up going the distance despite his early struggles. The key was Hamlett striking out Sabino slugging star Dylan Ruggeroli with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning. The maneuver prevented Sabino from taking the lead and kept the teams tied at 1-1.
“My strategy was to get them swinging,” Hamlett said. “My change-up wasn’t working well.”
The Dorados broke out in the bottom of the second with six runs to take a 7-1 lead. To get there, Ryan Craig singled in one run with two men on base. A bases-loaded single by Anthony Badalucco plated another run. Then came the big hit despite two outs.
Cleanup man Tanner Sinclair ripped a triple that rolled to the fence and cleared the bases, resulting in a 6-1 lead. Ruben Rivera singled him home, and then it was 7-1.
“We usually have that one good inning,” Hamlett noted.
After Hamlett gave up one run in the third, the Dorados were never challenged again. The closest attempt came in the ninth, when Sabercat Lucas Leifield homered with two outs.
Hamlett finished with five strikeouts, three walks, nine hits, and two earned runs allowed.
Beating the Sabercats was no small order as they entered the game unbeaten in power-point games, and second in the 4A rankings.
The win ranks the Dorados fourth in the league.
“We could play them again,” said CDO coach Len Anderson. “It could be a closer game.
“We have a mature approach with two strikes. Also, a pitcher is vulnerable with two outs. We don’t mail in at-bats.”
That was evident when the Dorados scored four of their eight runs with a count of two outs.
Did Anderson consider removing Hamlett after his earlier high-pitch count?
“As long as he was effective, Hamlett was going to stay in,” Anderson said.
Looking to the future, the Dorados schedule doesn’t get any easier from here.
“We play Sabino again,” Anderson said. “We also play Flowing Wells, and Pueblo twice. It’s a good competitive league. We have to come out to play.”
What about CDO and Sabino?
“They’re the two best teams in the city,” said Anderson.