Facing what Tucson High baseball coach Oscar Romero considers the hardest thrower his team has seen this season, the Badgers' bats were quiet the first two innings against Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley's Daniel Jurney.
The second time through Tucson's order was a different story.
The Badgers scored five runs in the third inning, jump-starting their offense to a 14-7 win over the Mustangs in Thursday's semifinal of the Chris Moon Memorial Tournament at Cherry Field.
"It feels great to be in the championship," Badgers shortstop Alex Robles said. "Its our tournament, and we are doing it for Chris Moon. We have never won it, but maybe we can do it this year."
Tucson (15-3) will play Las Vegas (Nev.) Rancho in the championship game today at 3 p.m. Rancho beat Sunnyside 9-5 in the other semifinal matchup.
The Badgers will hope to take the momentum they found at the plate against Ralston Valley into the title game.
After Ralston Valley took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Thursday, the Badgers adjusted at the plate to Jurney's fastball by staying back on the pitch and hitting it to the opposite field. The new approach led to two consecutive five-run innings that included five extra-base hits.
"Their pitcher was pretty good, but we adjusted," said Francisco Rodriguez, who had two doubles and two RBIs.
One of those extra-base hits was a two-run home run by Robles in the fourth. Jurney, who had trouble locating his curveball that inning, hung the breaking pitch over the plate allowing Robles to pull the ball over the left field fence.
"I put a good swing on it, and it just happened to go over," said Robles, who will start on the mound in today's championship game at Cherry Field.
The run support provided by the Badgers lineup was enough for pitcher Martin Dicochea to improve to 4-0. The reliever was battling a fever during the game but still threw 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.
"Martin is our No. 2 starter, and he was getting his innings in," Romero said. "I was going to take him out a little sooner, but he said he wanted to push through it."