Bonanza baseball coach Derek Stafford turned to his wife Monday morning and made a brash declaration.
“I told her, ‘I’ve got to beat Kevin Fiddler,’ ” Stafford said with a laugh, referring to his former assistant and current Palo Verde coach.
By late afternoon, the ninth-year coach was all smiles.
Fueled by a dominating outing by senior starting pitcher Daniel Romero, the Bengals tamed visiting Palo Verde 3-1 in a non-league game.
“I consider (Fiddler) one of my best friends,” Stafford said. “He was in my wedding … but I told my guys, ‘Hey, let’s go in.’ I don’t want to lose to Coach Fiddler.”
In his first outing of the season, Romero threw 77 pitches to complete five shutout innings. He took a no-hitter into the fourth and wound up allowing two hits and striking out three.
“I wanted to come out throwing strikes,” Romero said. “There were definitely some butterflies going up against Coach Fiddler.”
With no definitive rotation in place for Bonanza (2-2), Stafford was pleased with Romero’s control in his first outing.
“We’re asking a lot of him because he is our starting shortstop,” Stafford said. “We’re by committee right now, and I told the guys that we’re on tryouts to see who’s going to step up.”
The Bengals gave Romero an early cushion with opportunistic hitting. Alec Taft led off the second with a single, advanced on Austin Taft’s sacrifice bunt down the third-base line and moved to third on a wild pitch. He came home on Chris Roberts’ single to left.
“We always try to score the first run,” Stafford said. “That’s our offensive philosophy.”
Bonanza added a run in the fifth on Joaquin Orozco’s opposite-field single to right, and Dave Estrada drove in a run in the sixth. Orozco was 2-for-2 for the Bengals.
Kevin DeSoto was 2-for-3 with an RBI single for Palo Verde (2-2), which had four hits.
Palo Verde put the tying runs on first and third in the seventh with two outs, but reliever Will McKenna struck out the only batter he faced to get the save.