After walking the first batter he faced, Tucson pitcher Alex Robles settled down and tossed seven shutout innings in the championship game of the Chris Moon Memorial Classic, leading the host Badgers to a 2-0 win over Las Vegas Rancho on Friday at Cherry Field.
The four-day tournament featured 12 teams from four states and is named after Moon, a former Badgers standout who died in Afghanistan three years ago from injuries sustained when he stepped on a roadside bomb while serving with the Army.
Robles, a senior, struck out a season-high 11 batters and surrendered just one hit to help the top-ranked Division I Badgers raise their season mark to 16-3.
Rancho's lone hit came in the sixth inning off a line drive back to the mound. Robles stopped it, but the ball trickled away for an infield single.
Tucson coach Oscar Romero joked that Robles tried to convince him the play was an error to keep his no-hitter alive.
"We're fortunate to have him on our staff," Romero said. "He took charge of the game today. It was a special day to watch a performance like that.
"He was locked in and everything was working for him today; it was a beautiful thing to watch."
Despite an early walk, Robles was in command from the start of the game. The Pima College commit struck out at least two batters each in five of his seven innings.
"Alex is a stud," senior left fielder Isaac Federico said. "He gets it done every time. We don't have to worry about anything, just play defense behind him."
Federico hit a single to left field in the second inning to bring in senior Jesse Robles from second, putting the Badgers up 1-0.
Three batters later, with the bases loaded and one out, Federico scored the second run when senior Emilio Melendez hit into a force out at second base.
"Isaac has been picking us up in a lot of games," said Romero.
Federico went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Alex Robles also chipped in at the plate, going 2 for 3 with two singles.
"We've been working so hard and it showed today," Robles said.
Although Robles shined on the mound, Romero also gave credit to assistant coach Tommy Vega who relayed the pitching sequences and allowed him to mix his curveball and change-up in with his fastball.
"We believe in throwing sequences and keeping hitters off pace," Romero said "If you can get an athlete to throw three pitches for strikes, then you're going to baffle hitters like Alex did today."