AJHS Baseball Splits with Combs

Prospectors End Season with Rivalry Victory over Coyotes

By Daniel Dullum

Losing your last home game never goes down well, but Apache Junction senior Nick Mohn tried to put a philosophical spin on the Prospectors’ 9-7 loss on April 17.

“It’s all right,” Mohn, the starting pitcher, said. “It’s not really a big deal. We played good, but Combs just played better than us today.”

First baseman-pitcher Nathan Rhodes said, “It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’ve had a lot of fun with all of these guys.”

Having fun to finish the 2018 season came two days later for the Prospectors, who returned the favor of spoiling Senior Day for Combs with a 4-3 win at San Tan Valley.

“We were going to bounce back,” Prospectors Coach Alex Murphy said. “We’ve been playing much better at the end of the year, compared to the beginning.

“I didn’t see us going flat for the last game.”

After trailing 2-0 after the first inning, AJ (14-13 overall, 7-3 Black Canyon Region) scored three times in the fifth inning and a fourth run in the top of the seventh.

Mohn was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI; Rhodes went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Austin Sample struck out four, walked one and gave up three earned runs on seven hits to get the complete-game win.

On the season, Mohn hit .425 with an on-base percentage of .531, 20 stolen bases and 15 runs batted in. Pitching was a challenge for Mohn (0-3), who sat out his junior season after undergoing elbow surgery.

Rhodes, a left-handed hitter and pitcher, drove in 32 runs with three homers and 12 doubles. He batted .435 with a .543 on-base percentage and a .739 slugging percentage. A .983 fielder, Rhodes was also 2-1 with a 3.36 ERA on the mound, including a five-inning no-hitter on March 22 against Scottsdale Coronado.

“They really carried us this year,” Prospectors Coach Alex Murphy said.

“Nick and Lefty and Mat, at the beginning of the year before he got hurt. They did a lot for us with a lot of offensive production.

“Nick pitched well. His ERA wasn’t so great, but he was coming back from his elbow injury and did well for us. We weren’t expecting him to be his old self, but today he looked pretty good, so he’s coming back into shape for college ball.”

Mohn said he had a visit with Benedictine-Mesa, but hasn’t made a final decision.

“They’re going to send an offer sometime soon, and I’ll wind up signing with them in a few weeks,” Mohn said.

Rhodes said he’s still undecided about his future, but Murphy thinks he can land somewhere to continue his baseball career.

“He doesn’t know exactly where he wants to go yet. But I’ll definitely help him with that process. He’ll find someplace to go. He’s a good ballplayer.”

“I’m not sure yet, my club coaches are talking to a few colleges. Hopefully there’s something there for me in the future. It’s a dream of mine.”

In the first game against Combs, the Prospectors jumped to a 4-0 lead before the Coyotes rallied for eight runs in the fourth. Combs led 9-4 after 6 ½ innings, but the Prospectors rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh on a three-RBI double by Gabe Carranza.

The game ended when Carranza tried to advance to third base on an outfield fly.

“We had one rough inning the whole game, and for the most part, I think we played better than them. But you’ve got to play a solid seven,” Murphy said. “That one inning did us in, but I like the way we fought back.”

Photo above: Seniors Mathew Turner, Nathan Rhoses and Nick Mohn pose prior to the Prospectors’ final home game of the season against Combs. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

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