If Palo Verde baseball coach Jim Mentz were a betting man, he’d put his money on his horses.
Not the ponies at Rillito Park — his stable of right-handed pitchers.
Palo Verde (21-3) is sporting the school’s best winning percentage of all time and has its most wins since 1999, when it had 23. The Titans also went 8-0 at home this year, thanks in large part to their trio of hurlers.
Senior Tyler Fallwell and juniors Jared Cochran and Danny Hunt have combined for just 20 earned runs in 138⅓ innings pitched.
“They say pitching is 90 percent of the game and you’re only as good as your starting pitching,” said Mentz, who is in his 20th season at Palo Verde. “With those three on the mound, that’s why we’re in every game.”
Ranked third in Division III, the Titans are riding a six-game winning streak. During that span, they’ve outscored opponents 41-15. The Star recently caught up with the three pitchers to see why the Titans have been so successful this season.
Tyler Fallwell, RHP/1B
Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.
Who he is: The ace of the staff. Fallwell is in his fourth season as a starting pitcher and is signed to play for Cochise College. He pounds the strike zone and his fastball sits at 89 miles per hour.
Record: 7-0, including four shutouts
Innings pitched: 49
Earned-run average: 0.58
Seeds or gum: Neither
Best game: In a 1-0 win over Walden Grove on April 17, Fallwell tossed a one-hit shutout and struck out 10.
Coach’s call: “Tyler just brings it. He’s the ultimate pitcher. The kid knows how to set hitters up and knows how to attack. He’s been doing it for four years. In my mind, he’s what every team envisions as an ace.”
Jared Cochran, RHP/IF
Height/weight: 6-foot, 185 pounds
Who he is: Cochran is a transfer from Ironwood Ridge who played on varsity his freshman year and sat out last season because he was ineligible. He’s fit right in with the Titans and throws 77 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Record: 6-1 with one save
Innings pitched: 45º
Earned-run average: 1.38
Seeds or gum: Dill pickle seeds
Best game: Early in the season, Cochran struggled against Marana in the Dan Moore Classic, but got redemption on Monday. He gave up one run in a complete- game win, fanning seven batters. Coach’s call: “His loss against Marana was the first time we saw him pitch in a game situation. We didn’t know what type of pitches he liked in certain situations. Once we figured it out, he’s been great. He pounds the strike zone.”
Danny Hunt, RHP/SS
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 150 pounds
Who he is: Hunt stars as Palo Verde’s starting quarterback and point guard and is in his third varsity season with the baseball team. He throws a three-quarters delivery.
Record: 7-1 with two saves
Innings pitched: 42º
Earned-run average: 1.15
Seeds or gum: Dubble Bubble gum.
Best game: Hunt tossed five shutout innings in a 13-0 win over Morenci on March 14. He struck out six and gave up just two hits.
Coach’s call: “Danny throws hard and his three-quarters delivery is deceptive on hitters. He’s a great athlete.”