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Fri, July 03

Grand Canyon boys<br>work on finding lineup<br>

After a few weeks playing baseball in a gymnasium and watching snow fall, the Grand Canyon High School baseball team finally took the field on a real diamond Friday and Saturday at the Desert Classic Tournament in Phoenix.

David Robinson impressed head coach Andrew Aldaz with his play in last weekend’s tournament in Phoenix. Above, Robinson pitches in the late innings of Friday’s loss to Arizona Lutheran.

The Phantoms played 24 innings in six tournament games, each shortened by time limits and mercy rules. Grand Canyon went 0-6 and was outscored 70-6, making it obvious that the team really did have limited opportunities for practice heading into this year’s tournament.

"A lot of it is having inexperienced pitching," veteran coach Andrew Aldaz said. "It really shows up in the tournaments, especially when you have to play six games. What this tournament does for us is tell us what we have, what positions we can play and which ones we can’t. It also gives us an idea of who will start."

Aldaz said the tournament did answer some questions. Over the six games, Grand Canyon used six different starting lineups and four different pitchers had decisions.

The Phantoms played three games on Arizona Lutheran’s field on Friday. St. Gregory’s out of Tucson opened with an 8-1 victory over Grand Canyon behind the strength of a strong first inning.

Grand Canyon trailed 4-0 before taking its first swings of the season. The team then settled down and played the opponent fairly even the rest of the way.

In the bottom of the fourth and trailing 5-0, the Phantoms got on the scoreboard by pushing a run across. Danny Vincent singled and would come around to score on an RBI-single by Ed Hazlett. St. Gregory’s scored three in the fifth and the game was called on the time limit. Miles Hunter took the loss at pitcher.

"We played them pretty tough," Aldaz said. "Miles had a rough start, but once he settled down, he pretty much held them and we stayed with them."

Senior Joe Wilkerson went 2-for-2 as Grand Canyon collected eight hits. Shane Cox, John Gabaldon, Chris Mickelson, Jesse Hunter, Vincent and Hazlett each had singles.

In the second game, Grand Canyon ran into a wall called Arizona Lutheran, who was playing on its home field. The Coyotes scored four runs in each of the first three innings and added two in the fourth for a 14-0 win. Arizona Lutheran’s Andy Casman threw a no-hitter.

In its final game Friday, the Phantoms fell to Valley Lutheran, 9-3. Grand Canyon stayed competitive in this one and trailed just 4-3 after three innings. The opponent put on a five-spot in the final frame to pad the score.

Grand Canyon scored twice in the first inning. Gabaldon singled and scored on a Miles Hunter double, who would later score himself on a wild pitch. The team’s other run came in the third. Cox struck out, but reached base on a passed ball and would end up scoring on a fielder’s choice.

Miles Hunter took the loss on the mound and went 1-for-2 at the plate. Gabaldon also went 1-for-2.

On Saturday, Grand Canyon was scheduled to play Pusch Ridge in the first game, but the school did not show up for the tournament. Instead, the Phantoms went up against Bourgade Catholic and played fairly well in a 6-2 loss.

The Phantoms scored a run in the first when Gabaldon walked and made his way around the bases. Grand Canyon scored a second run in the third inning when Gabaldon crossed the plate again. Gabaldon again drew a walk and would scored on an RBI single by Cox.

On the mound, Wilkerson suffered the loss. At the plate, Gabaldon went 1-for-1 with a double and two runs scored. Cox was 1-for-3.

Grand Canyon had a rough day in its final two games with losses of 14-0 to Valley Christian and 19-0 to Bourgade Catholic. The Phantoms had just one hit in the two games, a Hazlett single vs. Bourgade.

"The kid who did well and surprised us and played a lot of positions was David Robinson," Aldaz said. "He caught, pitched, played shortstop, played second. He really stepped up; I was pretty pleased with his play."

The coach also mentioned the efforts of Vincent, Wilkerson, Miles Hunter and Jesse Hunter. All four of those players had their moments on the mound.

Grand Canyon (0-6) will likely see no action again until March 29 against Mogollon at Heber.

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