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The Sedona Red Rock High School baseball team could tie for the Division III, Section IV lead this week.

Junior Josh Hafner comes off of first base to tag out Camp Verde High School freshman Ezekial Casillas in the final inning of Sedona Red Rock High School's 8-1 win in its sectional opener Tuesday, March 18, at Camp Verde High School.

After a 8-1 victory at Camp Verde High School, the Scorpions [1-2] could vault into at least a share of the early sectional lead with wins this week over Cortez and Central high schools — that is, if the Cowboys help the SRRHS cause with a victory Thursday, March 27, at Chino Valley High School.

“That was the first time, I think, we’ve beaten them at their place,” Scorpions head baseball coach Craig Eagle said. “That was an important one, a must-win. We had to win that one. I had to have that one.”  

Senior pitcher Carlos Rodriguez, who will start at home against Central at 4 p.m. Friday, March 28, allowed one run on five hits and struck out six Cowboys over seven innings in the complete-game victory — his first complete game as a high school pitcher.

“It was nice to finish, especially against Camp Verde, because they’re our rivals,” he said. “I like pitching under pressure. I definitely have more control this year.”

Eagle agreed and added that Rodriguez, his No. 2 starter next to junior Scott Moker, has improved his location and command of different pitches against the heart of the batting order since the season-opening home loss March 4 to Williams High School.

“He has a better curveball than in the opener against Williams,” he said. “Carlos was throwing strikes and putting away the heart of the lineup. He took care of the bottom of the order, too, which was important.”

Juniors Stefan Zielinski and Moker batted in two runs each to lead the SRRHS offensive attack, which jumped on Camp Verde freshman starting pitcher Ryan Cain early with three runs in the top of the first inning and another four scored by the Scorpions in the second.

“We were hitting spots where they weren’t,” Eagle said.

With one out in the second inning, Cain gave way to fellow freshman Ezekial Casillas, who struck out six Scorpions and allowed only one unearned run over the next two-and-two-thirds innings. But more than enough damage had already been done, as SRRHS also had stolen two bases on four walks and nine total hits on the day.

“We need to have command like that in the early innings,” Eagle said. “Get out to an early lead [and] kill their morale, so the pressure’s on them going into the dugout.”

The defense backing up Rodriguez also did its job, committing two errors in 14 tries, something both he and Eagle were proud of.

“Defensively, we really stepped up, too,” Rodriguez said.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, March 26, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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