There’s something to be said for experience…and the ability to weather a storm.
Hamilton High‘s baseball team used both last night to claim this year’s Division I state championship, defeating Mountain Ridge High School, 12-3, in a rain-soaked exhibition of power at the plate.
This was the first time a baseball team from Mountain Ridge made it to the championship game. But Hamilton has been here before, five times to be exact, and all in the last 13 years. And all under head coach Mike Woods.
The win gives the Chandler school a sweep of the D-I diamond titles. Their girls won the school’s first-ever state softball championship Monday night with a 3-0 win over Pinnacle High School. (Previous phxfan article). The softball team won 31 games this season, while the guys posted 27 wins.
Hamilton jumped out to a 5-0 lead before last night’s baseball game, already under siege by rain, was called for a lightning delay in the fifth inning. It took a full hour before play resumed, but the Huskies just picked up where they left off.
They had built their pre-delay lead in a rainy, windy fourth inning. Hamilton was sitting on a 1-0 lead when Mountain Ridge starting pitcher Tommy Lowe loaded the bases to begin the fourth. Chris Collins, the bottom hitter in the Huskies’ line-up, singled and brought three runs home when the ball rolled into deep center. The lead stretched to 5-0 when Brayden Merritt used a two-out single to push home another run.
Hamilton added a run in the fifth, after lefty Matthew Liberatore replaced Lowe on the mound, and another in the sixth. Mountain Ridge got its first run in the fifth, but the Huskies threw dirt over the grave in the seventh by stroking five hits and collecting five more runs to run the score to 12-1. Hamilton used 10 batters in that one inning.
By the time the dust settled, almost four hours after the first pitch, Hamilton had piled up 16 hits, with every starter contributing at least one. Add that to the seven errors that the Ridge uncharacteristically committed and you have the recipe for a runaway victory.
Ricky Ramsdell and Drew Smith led the Hamilton onslaught with three hits apiece, and Tristian Thomas led the Mountain Lions with two hits and an RBI.
In Division II…the Greenway High School Demons also had their share of errors early, but managed to overcome them and claim the D-II state championship with a 7-4 win over Tucson High at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Greenway committed three errors in the first inning and Tucson capitalized on the gift by stepping out to a 2-0 lead. But the Demons answered in the bottom of the inning by tying it at 2-2, and then took their turn at playing leader in the third by picking up a run, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Matthew McDonald.
The Demons added two runs in the fourth, fueled by a long double by McDonald, and added two more in the fifth when Jesus Macias singled home Greenway’s final two scores.
Bryce Mackey earned the win and finishes his senior season with a 9-3 record and a 2.60 ERA. Jared Kenyon took over in the sixth inning and closed out his high school career with a 7-1 record.
This was a bitter-sweet win for Greenway head coach Matt Denny. It will be his last state title at the west Phoenix school, after winning two in the last three years.
Next year, he will be coaching at Mountain Pointe High School in east Phoenix after 14 years with the Demons’ baseball program, the last nine as head coach.