This was not the way the Camp Verde baseball team wanted to end its season, and for most of the game, it looked like the Cowboys could pull out the win, but in the sixth and final inning, the Chino Valley Cougars iced the contest, 10-0, ending the Cowboys seniors baseball careers.
"My reality is, I just want to say thanks to all the seniors that worked hard all year, they gave everything they had, I hate to see them go and I'm not going to be taking anything from this game because there's very few guys coming back next year," head coach Will Davis said. "I'm glad we made it here, I'm proud of the guys for doing that. We're the second smallest school in all of Division-III, so for us to even get here is huge."
Going into the contest, the teams had split games during the regular season, with each game being decided by one point.
Chino Valley was up 3-0 with no outs and bases loaded in the sixth inning. The Cougars proceeded to drive in seven runs, while the Cowboys could only get one out, and the 10-run rule went into effect and ended Camp Verde's season.
Senior Jesse Fullbright started on the mound and lasted until the final inning before being relieved by Taylor Hicks. Jesse left the pitchers mound after the Cougars tallied nine runs, four earned, on seven hits.
"Jesse got tired," Davis said. "His arm started going and we don't have the pitching to compete at this level."
The senior threw five strikeouts and six walks and left with a 5.60 ERA. Up until the bottom of the fifth, Jesse had only allowed three runs while his arm was fresh, but fatigue and lack of pitching depth caught up to the senior and was replaced by Taylor. Taylor recorded a strike out.
The rest of the defense played well through the first inning, complimenting the pitching. Taylor, before pitching, was playing shortstop. He ran and caught a pop fly ball into foul territory and his glove found another pop fly to end the first. But over the course of the game, first baseman Heath Carroll, who is usually a solid first baseman, missed catches because the throws were outside his reach or because the throws slipped past his glove.
Over the next few innings, Camp Verde could not get its bats going, but because the defense was playing good baseball, they only committed three errors through five innings (four overall), the game was kept close. Jesse was the only Cowboy to notch any hits; he went 2-for-3 on the night, while the rest of the team was shut down by Chino Valley.
In the final inning, Jesse made it through three batters before being replaced by Taylor. The Cougars found their rhythm and chipped away until the game was out of reach. Chino Valley went through eight batters before Camp Verde recorded its first out, and the Cougars sent three more to the plate before blanking the Cowboys.
After the game, the players were clearly upset and Davis told them what he could.
"[I told them] don't hang your heads, be proud of who you are and what you've accomplished and how hard you've worked to get here," Davis said.