Defending champs begin title defense with victory

Staff photo by Eric Lusk

BIG T leads VV: Pitcher Tyler Myers struck out 13 batters as Verde Valley beat Williams 10-3.

Tyler Myers struck out 13 batters and gave up just two hits Tuesday as Verde Valley drilled Williams 10-3 in its District 10 opener. Myers never seemed to tire, fanning the last three batters of the game.

"All of Williams’ runs were unearned," said Verde coach Kelly Kirby. "It was a nice complete-game effort."

The win keeps Verde Valley in the winner’s bracket as the district tournament resumes this week at Herridge Field in Cottonwood.

The local 11-12 all-stars will face Prescott North at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The winner of that game will play again Thursday, while the loser will play an elimination game Wednesday.

Eight teams remain in the chase for the District 10 title, which affords a berth in the upcoming state tournament. The district title game is set for Saturday, July 12, with a July 14 rematch looming if necessary.

Verde Valley won last year’s 11-12 tournament in Prescott Valley and looks primed for a repeat effort. Four players return from that championship squad – Tony Vocca, Trevor Sanderlin, Connor Barrett and C.J. Taylor.

Pitching, obviously, is a strength as is hitting and defense, according to Kirby. Vocca played a big role on the pitching front in last year’s tournament.

"We didn’t hit the ball like we can against Williams," Kirby said. "Base-running is something we did well. We made them make the plays."

Verde Valley never trailed against Williams, taking a 2-0 advantage in its first at-bats. The lead grew to 4-1 in the second inning and was 5-3 from the third through the fifth frames.

The locals put it out of reach with a five-run sixth inning. Richard Paynter and Barrett both singled and got home after a series of throwing errors. Sanderlin hit a two-run double.

Other Verde Valley 11-12 all-stars this season include Arturo Perez, Logan Stewart, Ty Meacham, B.J. Halter, Tony Rojas, Hunter Zwart, Kevin Goodearl and Tyler Wakefield.

Here is the rest of the tournament schedule:

• Monday: Sedona vs. Williams, 5 p.m.; Camp Verde vs. Prescott South, 7:30 p.m.

• Tuesday: Verde Valley vs. Prescott North, 5 p.m.; Chino Valley vs. Prescott Valley, 7:30 p.m.

• Wednesday: Camp Verde-Prescott South winner vs. Verde Valley-Prescott North loser, 5 p.m.; Sedona-Williams winner vs. Chino Valley-Prescott Valley loser, 7:30 p.m.

• Thursday: Winner’s bracket game, 5 p.m.; Loser’s bracket game, 7:30 p.m.

• Friday: Final loser’s bracket game, 7 p.m.

• Saturday: Championship, 7 p.m. (rematch Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. if necessary).

Kirby expects Verde Valley to still be around by the weekend. "We’re one of the favorites," he said. "But there are no slouches here. We don’t take any of them lightly."

Kirby also coached a local team of 12-and-under players to a bronze medal in the recent Grand Canyon State Games. The Verde Valley A’s traveling team, which included many of the 11-12 all-stars, beat a team from Mesa 8-7 in extra innings, lost to the Valley All-Stars 16-9, then beat East Valley 15-13.

Tony Vocca and Tyler Myers pitched well in the Mesa win, Kirby said. Paynter gave a solid pitching effort in game two. Myers and Arturo Perez led the hitting as the A’s beat East Valley in a wild finale that was decided in the game’s last at-bats.

"We hit the ball well the whole time," Kirby said.

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