The anticipated showdown between two of the state’s top pitchers didn’t materialize Thursday, but a pitchers’ duel still unfolded.
Sunnyside senior Mari Contreras was the 2-1 winner as the host Blue Devils (20-4) snapped Sierra Vista Buena’s 10-game winning streak and gained revenge for an 8-2 thumping at Sierra Vista earlier this year.
“I was a little shaky at the end, a little tired and I had to pitch to one of their best hitters,” said Contreras, who gave up a home run and two straight singles in the sixth inning after striking out 15 to that point.
Buena ace Meghan McIntosh, who dominated the Devils in the Colts’ win in March, did not pitch but played in the field. Buena (17-4-1) starter Carissa Youngblood might have been as effective, tossing a two-hitter. Only Estela Pinon’s game-winning two-run homer in the fourth marred Youngblood’s effort.
“The home run was just one mistake but it was huge” for more than one reason, said Sunnyside coach Pete Palomarez.
“Estela has been having problems, struggling with the bat. It was great for her, great for Sunnyside.”
Palomarez credited the senior poise of Central Arizona College-bound Contreras, who has pitched for four years and led the Blue Devils to the Class 5A Division II state championship in 2007. She is one of two seniors on a team that has been a pleasant surprise.
Contreras struggled some with her location in the final two innings.
“When she’s on, she’s unbeatable, but she was missing (on her pitches),” Palomarez said.
Contreras managed a called third strike for the last out of the sixth inning with two Buena runners on base. She also got some help in the seventh when third baseman Bri del Campo snagged a foul ball for the second out.
With two outs in the seventh, Buena’s Shannel Blackshear, who like McIntosh has signed to play collegiately at the University of Wisconsin, lofted a high fly ball to right field that Brianna Romero caught at the fence.
“I felt relief, just relief,” Contreras said of recording the final out.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.