Jake Hager always is confident in his fastball and curveball, but a changeup that he said “comes and goes” has given him something to work on this season.
On Saturday, the Sierra Vista sophomore right-hander showed he could be ahead of schedule.
Hager pitched six solid innings to lead the Mountain Lions to a 6-3 home baseball win over Palo Verde. He allowed one run on two hits, walked two and struck out six.
“All my pitches were working,” Hager said. “The fastball was getting up, the curveball was breaking, the changeup was dropping. Everything was working out.”
At the plate, Hager went 1-for-4, stole two bases and scored a run.
“He’s probably our best player,” Sierra Vista coach Nate Selby said of Hager, the team’s leadoff batter. “For early in the year, he threw quite a few strikes.”
Hager (1-0) threw 40 pitches in the first two innings but needed only three to end the sixth. He finished with 85.
“I had confidence in myself and came out and threw a good game,” he said.
Sierra Vista (2-0) never trailed, taking a 3-0 lead into the third inning and 5-1 into the fourth.
Palo Verde (1-1) had the tying run at the plate with one out in the top of the seventh but didn’t capitalize.
The Panthers were coming off a 14-0 win at Eldorado on Friday.
“Maybe we were a little full of ourselves, the way we played (Friday), and probably came out here taking things for granted,” Palo Verde coach Paul Churchfield said. “Sometimes a loss is a good thing.”
Palo Verde pitchers combined to throw 35 strikes and 34 balls.
“You’re not going to win too many games when you’re doing that,” Churchfield said.
David DeCarlo went 2-for-2 with an RBI double and scored two runs for Sierra Vista.
Branden Hepworth drove in two runs for Palo Verde.
The Mountain Lions have only seven players back from last year’s 24-11 team, but they’re 2-0.
“To come out and get wins against quality teams in Green Valley and Palo Verde is always a good start,” Selby said. “We’ve certainly got some things to work on, but that’s probably the case with everybody this time of year.”