Tuesday night, the Palm Desert baseball team proved it’s still the team to beat in the Desert Valley League, despite an early league upset by Palm Springs and a narrow 4-3 victory over Indio back in March in the Coachella Valley Rotary Baseball Tournament.
With the help of strong pitching from Andrew Bash and a six-run surge in the first three innings, the Aztecs once again proved their dominance, taking a 9-0 victory at home to move to 6-1 in the DVL. With the loss, the Rajahs fall to 3-2 in league play.
Palm Desert head coach Darol Salazar said the difference in his team’s ups and downs thus far this spring has been consistency at the plate. With a strong slate of pitchers, all his team needs to do is pour on the runs early, and he knows they’ve got the upper hand.
“They had to battle for everything they got. If we can do that with our pitching, we’re going to be pretty good,” Salazar said. “Normally when we play them, it’s a one-run game late in the game … but to get ahead like that, it takes the wind out of their sails because they know they’re not going to score a lot of runs on our pitching.”
The Aztecs scored two runs in the first, jump-started by Travis Moniot’s triple before Gil Sauceda scored him on an RBI single. He moved around to third on a Johnny Cuevas single, and the duo pulled off a perfect double-steal to confuse Indio just enough to give Sauceda time to cross the plate for an early 2-0 lead.
The top of the lineup came through again in the third, starting the inning off with three walks and three singles, en route to another four runs and a 6-0 lead, plenty of a cushion for the team’s starting pitcher.
Bash threw five innings, striking out three while allowing three hits and one walk. He was perfect through three and two-thirds innings before giving up two hits and loading the bases.
There, even down 6-0, Indio head coach Mark Brenner said had his team completed that late-inning run, the game could have turned out differently.
But when you fall that far behind to Palm Desert, he said, your margin of error is that much smaller.
“We know if our boys put some balls in play, they can start to chip away at it. We had an opportunity,” Brenner said. “To put a couple runs up, if we’d done that, then that could have changed some things … but once you see some runs go up on the board, you know you have an uphill battle, especially with a good pitcher on the mound.”
Bash led the team at the plate, too, going 3 for 4 and scoring two runs.
Luckily for the Rajahs, Brenner said, the two teams take the mound once again Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. for an uncommon back-to-back game in DVL play.
With such little time to think about the blowout, Brenner hopes his players can take their home field with a fresh mind ready to challenge the Aztecs like they did back in March.
“There’s really nothing to work on. We’ve just got to go out and play better baseball,” Brenner said. “Sometimes it’s really surprising what 24 hours can do. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s probably good for our boys just to get rid of this game and move on to the next one.”