The No. 7 spot in a batting lineup isn’t always known for offensive production in baseball.
But Wednesday, Tucson High got just that when Kyle Ivanoff, who bats seventh, belted two doubles in his first two at-bats and scored a run to help Tucson High pick up its seventh straight win, 7-2 over host Sunnyside.
“I’m just picking up the ball early and trying to put it in play,” said Ivanoff, who is batting .700 in the Badgers’ win streak, including going 3-for-3 against Sunnyside. “I am not trying to do too much with it.”
He said the recent win streak is a positive sign the team is becoming cohesive at the right time heading into Saturday’s opening-round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
“I feel like we are all coming together and playing for Tucson High and not for ourselves anymore,” Ivanoff said. “The one through four guys (in the lineup) do well, but we need someone at the bottom that is going to bring us back up to the top again and get that rally going.”
Trailing 2-1 after four innings, Tucson High (18-9, 5-1 in Class 5A-I Southern Region) scored two runs in each of the final three innings, including a two-run homer by Alan Garcia in the seventh to snap his 0-for-12 slump.
Sunnyside (19-8, 5-1 in the 5A-II Southern Region) took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when catcher Ricardo Mendivil hit his eighth homer of the season.
“I was surprised I hit the home run because I never try to,” the Spanish-speaking Mendivil said through an interpreter. “I just try to get a base hit. I just hit the ball hard and got all of it.”
Freshman Benny Garcia, recently up from JV, led Sunnyside with two hits, a single and a double.
Tucson High, which clinched the 5A-I Southern Region title last week with a win over Salpointe, and Sunnyside, which clinched the 5A-II Southern Region on Tuesday with a win over Mountain View, both play in the opening-round of their respective state tournaments Saturday. Playoff brackets have not yet been released.
“I feel like we are all coming together and playing for Tucson High and not for ourselves anymore.”
Tucson High senior, after the Badgers won their seventh straight game