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Fri, Feb. 28

GC boys competitive<br>at Desert Classic

PHOENIX — The Grand Canyon High School baseball team lost four of six games at the Desert Classic Friday and Saturday, but the Phantoms were very competitive in a tournament featuring several top-notch ballclubs.

Grand Canyon High School pitcher Michael Vincent eyes home plate for the Phantoms Friday at the Desert Classic in Phoenix.

The Phantoms opened with a 1-1-1 record on the first day, finishing in a tie against Valley Lutheran, falling to Bourgade Catholic and then beating Valley Lutheran in a rematch. On the second day, the Phantoms dropped games to Mogollon, Northwest Community Christian and Valley Christian.

"This tournament is always good for us. It gives us an idea of what we need to go back and work on," Grand Canyon coach Andrew Aldaz said. "I think the games we played will give the kids a little confidence going into league play. They can basically play with any team."

In the opener, Grand Canyon ended up in a 6-6 tie against Valley Lutheran. The game was stopped in the fourth inning because of a tournament time limit. Officials stuck to the time limit, even if another team had an extra time at bat. That was the case in the game vs. Valley Lutheran with the Phantoms unable to bat in the bottom of the fourth.

Grand Canyon shot out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Miles Hunter, Michael Vincent and Mitchell Walker all walked and scored. Joe Wilkerson nailed a two-RBI single and later scored. Chris Mickelson hit a two-out double late in the inning.

Vincent got the start at pitcher and allowed just one hit over four innings. All of Valley Lutheran’s runs were unearned.

In the second game, Bourgade Catholic shutout the Phantoms, 6-0. The team collected five hits in the game, including a double by Walker. The team appeared to have something going in the third inning with three hits, but failed to push any runs across the plate.

In a rematch against Valley Lutheran, the Phantoms cruised to an 11-3 victory. Several players collected hits, including doubles by Mickelson and Vincent. Hunter was the winning pitcher.

"The kids finally got the hang of playing baseball again, running the bases and fielding the ball," Aldaz said about the win.

On Saturday, the Phantoms opened with a 9-4 setback to Mogollon. The game was close until the fourth inning when the Mustangs scored four runs for some breathing room. Mickelson and Hunter each collected two hits for the Phantoms.

"We had a chance to win; we were up 4-3 but then dropped the ball in the infield on a routine play," Aldaz said. "They scored a run to tie it. They later had the bases loaded and we dropped a fly ball in the outfield. They ended up scoring three runs and added a couple of more after that. But that was a winnable game."

Northwest Community Christian followed with a 12-1 win over Grand Canyon. The Phantoms were stunned in the first inning when the opponent scored 10 runs. Grand Canyon’s only two hits were singles by Mickelson and Vincent.

"We had a little bit of a letdown against Northwest," Aldaz said. "In the first inning, we had a lot of errors. We should’ve been in that game, but we had a lot of mental errors."

In the tourney finale, the Phantoms fell to Valley Christian, 5-1. The Phantoms had four hits, including a 2-for-3 performance by Hunter. Mickelson hit his third double of the tournament. Mitchell Walker pitched well but took the loss on the mound.

"We had a little bit more pitching than we thought we’d have," he said. "We tried different guys to give everybody some work. We also moved the infield and outfield around and looked at different positions."

Grand Canyon will head to Mayer Friday for a doubleheader against the Class 2A Wildcats. The twinbill will get started at 1 p.m.

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