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The Coconino Panthers suffered a mercy-rule defeat, 12-1, at home on Friday to the Sunrise Mountain Mustangs, who hit two home runs on the way to earning their sixth consecutive win.

Taylor Brown started in the circle for the No. 8-ranked Panthers and didn't get the run support that Coconino typically gives its pitching staff.

The ninth-ranked Mustangs got on the board in the opening inning on a passed ball, and the Panthers answered in the bottom of the first when Ashlyn Hernandez hit an RBI single on a 1-2 count with two outs recorded to score Hallie Chiaverini, who was running in place of Brown.

Sunrise Mountain bested Coconino's two-out performance in the top of the second, retaking the lead on an RBI double that was followed up with a two-run homer out to right field. Despite having to face eight total batters in the inning, Brown and the Panthers escaped further damage, leaving runners on the corners.

Brown had a scoreless inning in the third, but gave up her second dinger of the game to the leadoff batter. The next Mustangs batter in the order reached on an error, a dropped ball in center field, and from there started running up the score, making it an 8-1 advantage.

"She fought hard those first three innings and we just weren't backing her up," Panthers manager Kimberly Dennis said of her pitcher. "Kaitlyn (Snopek) has already pitched two games this week, and those were region games, so we a have a little bit more of a focus on those region games."

After the 4A Conference loss, the Panthers moved to 6-2 overall. 

The run-rule came into play in the top of the fifth and Coconino, which was held to its second-lowest offensive performance this season, couldn't put enough at-bats together to escape the shortened game.

"Offensively, we were getting runners on we just were not moving them 60 feet," Dennis said.

Coconino takes on the 3A Winslow Bulldogs in Winslow on Monday at 4 p.m.

Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at mhartman@azdailysun.com.

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