It’s not necessarily how well you get out of the blocks, but where you cross the finish line.
We’re applying a track reference to high school baseball here, but it could be used for just about any sport. In this case, it points to the importance of winning those final games on the schedule that are often needed to come out of section play on the top of the pile, thereby getting an automatic berth in the playoffs.
Basha High School was able to close with five straight wins to secure the Division I, Section I title. The Bears started the schedule with two losses out of the first four games, but put together a 23-4 record, which was five wins better than last season.
The Bears beat Gilbert High School, 11-3, and Mountain Pointe High School, 9-4, for their final two games. With the Mountain Pointe win Wednesday, Basha became one of the last of the top-ranked teams in Division I to wrap up their schedule.
In Section II… Mountain Ridge also wrapped up the section title before taking the field for its final game with Sunrise Mountain High School.
In keeping with the pattern, Mountain Ridge also won its final five games, closing out with a 4-3 win over Sunrise Mountain. But none of its final victories was more decisive than the game prior to the Sunrise Mountain contest when the Ridge piled up 17 hits in rolling to a 12-8 win over Corona del Sol High School.
This was the kind of game that holds the fans’ attention, with plenty of hitting and scoring. Every Mountain Ridge player who got to bat contributed at least one hit; Tristan Thomas and Alex Roth had three apiece.
Chase Hamilton led the eight-hit Corona attack, going three-for-three and scoring three runs. Do the math. That’s 25 hits in a single game.
Mountain Pointe set the tone for the game, scoring six times on six hits in the first inning that included back-to-back doubles by Matthew Dyer and Trent Turner and a home run from Mitchel Sullivan. The first-inning barrage at the plate, followed by a Matt Novis home run to lead off the second, cost Corona’s starter, Brandon Bracy, his job on the mound.
But Corona methodically collected their eight hits over the first four innings. In the fourth, Corona’s Jacob Clemens and Ryan Novis raised the level of excitement with back-to-back home runs.
It was tied 8-8 at the end of four, but the Lions regained the lead with three runs in the fifth and another in the ninth.
Mountain Pointe finished the regular season with a 23-5 record, while Corona went 21-6.
In Section III… Skyline High School efficiently closed out its schedule by winning nine out of the last 10 games, but still didn’t wrap up the section title until the final game with Mountain View High (Mesa).
Skyline, at 7-1 in section play, held a one-game lead over 6-2 Mountain View going into Wednesday’s contest. Mountain View (10-16) held the Coyotes to just six hits, but were plagued with erratic pitching that gave up seven walks, which Skyline (18-10-1) turned into runs as it slowly built to a 6-0 lead by the third inning on the way to the 8-1 victory.
Bobby Meza started on the mound for Skyline and worked four innings for the win.
Teams learned their post-season fate yesterday afternoon as the AIA announced bracket placements, with first-round games being played this weekend.