Sahuaro used timely hitting, solid defense and dominant pitching to quiet the Sierra Vista Buena bats and win 8-0 at Hal Eustice Field on Tuesday.
Junior pitcher Alex Verdugo led the way as the seventh-ranked Cougars stayed undefeated at home and won their ninth straight game, moving one win closer to locking up a first-round bye in the Division II state tournament.
Verdugo pitched five innings of one-hit ball and tied a season-high with 14 strikeouts. He is 6-0 and has 75 strikeouts through 38 innings.
"I didn't know there were that many strikeouts," Sahuaro coach Mark Chandler said laughing. "At this level, he's going to dominate 85 percent of the hitters in high school."
Verdugo used his fastball to set up the Buena hitters and his curveball to put them away.
"It was really good today; it had a lot of movement," Verdugo said. "Most of the time, I had good location with it, and when I did miss, I missed out of the zone."
He also got plenty of run support.
Sahuaro (17-3-1) struck early with a single by senior second baseman Marcos Munguia and an RBI single by junior right fielder Vinnie Tarantola in the first inning.
In the second inning, after two strikeouts, Sahuaro strung together two singles and a walk and took advantage of two Buena errors to grab a 3-0 lead before junior catcher Jacob Northrup pushed the Cougars' lead to four runs with an RBI single.
"We're dangerous enough that if you give us an extra out, we're going to hurt you," Chandler said. "Before you know it, it was 4-0 with Verdugo on the mound. You're facing a pretty tough hill to climb at that point."
Sahuaro collected five hits in the sixth inning to score four more runs and break the game open. Verdugo highlighted the inning with a two-run single.
The Colts (12-9) finished the game with three hits and left six runners on base. Buena starter junior Juan Aguilera struck out six over 5 1/3 innings.
"We still have to work on hitting. We struggle a little bit against quality pitching," Buena coach Adam Thrasher said. "We have our ups and downs; we just need to be more consistent."
With less than three weeks left in the season and the Colts ranked 20th in Division I, Thrasher's approach will stay the same.
"We're trying to get enough wins for a winning season and let the playoff picture play itself out," Thrasher said. "With eight games left, a lot of things can happen."