The Marana Tigers slayed more than just their competition on Tuesday, they rectified a season of bad luck and broken dreams.
The Tigers entered the contest against Cholla with a 6-15 record, having lost seven straight, with four of those losses coming by three runs or less.
They found a way out of their rut against the Chargers thanks to a fine performance on the mound by senior Garrett Nesbitt—who held Cholla to three runs in seven innings pitched.
The Tigers’ final tally in their 4-3 victory came on a bloop single off the bat of Nesbitt, driving in teammate Danny Perez for the winning run.
For head coach Allen Gillespie, the victory is a silver lining on what’s been a brutal stretch for his team, rewarding them for their hard work in the interim.
“It's been a long, hard week, or two weeks actually,” he said. “You heard the story about a monkey on your back? We've had a gorilla on our back. And it's been weighing us down and I feel like the team couldn't breathe, but we stayed positive. Keep working hard and keep playing hard. And just give yourself a chance.”
Gillespie’s team jumped out to an early 3-1 lead on the Chargers after an RBI single by Perez in the first, a fielder’s choice by James-Austin Whitley in the second and a single from Nesbitt in the third.
That lead stood up for most of the day, until the Chargers picked up runs in the fifth and sixth innings, tying the game at three entering the final inning.
Gillespie was thrilled by the pitching performance turned in from his senior righty, saying Nesbitt has been phenomenal all year long.
“I'm happy that he got to go the distance in a tight ball game and he kept his composure, kept pounding the strike zone,” Gillespie said. “I'm proud of this kid. I can't say enough good stuff about him. He needed that win. The whole team needed it.”
For Nesbitt, Tuesday’s win provided a bit of a reprieve on what’s been a tough-luck senior season to this point, with a 6.10 ERA in seven appearances.
“I just didn't want to end my last season here on a bad note,” he said. “So, I just, decided to go get it. Make it happen, kind of thing.”
A win to remember
Gillespie believes that Tuesday’s win has the potential to serve as a launching point for the rest of the team’s season.
He knows that this year’s squad is lean on experience, but that they have more than enough talent to hang in there going forward, needing a shot of confidence to put them over the edge.
“We’ve got to make the next play, and we’ve got to take it to the next level, which is a process for us,” he said. “And they went through it like champions. It hasn’t been easy. But I don’t care if we win another game this year, getting this win today for this group is huge.”