The math doesn’t add up for this year’s high school baseball state tournament – at least not the way it should.
One way to know whether the tournament selection committee did a good job in seeding the teams coming into the tournament is simply to add up the numbers when they get to the final four teams left. The total of all four seeds should be somewhere in the range of 10-14.
For example, if the top seeds #1 through #4 made it that far, that adds up to a total of 10. That means we’re assured of having two of the tournament’s top seeds playing for the state title.
So, what happened this year? When you add up the seeding numbers for the four teams that advanced to last Friday’s semifinals, you get a whopping 25 total. No. 2 Horizon High School was the only top-four seed still alive, and the Huskies were joined by No. 5 Corona del Sol Hgh School, No. 8 Pinnacle High, and No. 10 Hamilton High.
And which of those are getting ready to play for the championship tomorrow night? Yep, the No. 8 and No. 10 seeds. Go figure.
Early-round upsets set the stage for this year’s improbable finish. No. 1 Basha High was beaten by Pinnacle, 9-8, in the second round, and then was eliminated by No. 13 Boulder Creek High School, 6-4, in the first game in the losers’ bracket.
No. 3 Mountain Ridge High School suffered the same fate, losing to No. 6 Perry High in the second round by a humbling 8-1 score, and then getting blanked by Horizon to open play in the losers’ bracket. And No 4 San Luis High School made a quick disappearing act after losing to Boulder Creek in the opening game of the tournament, unable to even make it into the double-elimination portion of the tourney format.
So tomorrow night, we’ll find out whether a double-digit seed can capture a state crown.
To be fair, Hamilton is unlike any other No. 10 seed. The Huskies are the defending state champion, the No. 1 pick in the pre-season, showed well early in the schedule, and were among those listed in the azcentral sports Super 10 at one point in the season.
After dropping their opener, the Huskies began stringing together nine wins out of the next 10 games. However, they finished the season by losing back-to-back games to Basha, part of a three-week span in which they lost five of nine. That likely had much to do with the low seed.
But once tournament play got underway, Hamilton found its mojo again.
The Huskies won five games to take a direct line to the championship game, beating Tolleson High, Sunnyside High, Horizon, Perry, and Horizon a second time by a combined score of 35-7 for the five games.
Pinnacle was forced to take a much less direct route to tomorrow’s game. The Pioneers fell to Corona in the third round and then had to recover through the losers’ bracket by beating Boulder Creek and then Corona twice.
Mason Gray, Pinnacle’s junior right-hander, served up wins against Boulder Creek and then the second meeting with Corona to lead the squad into the finals. Senior Jason Nelson posted the win in the first encounter with Corona.
Jake Holmes, the Pioneers’ lead-off hitter, and junior outfielder/pitcher Zack Hull both had two hits to lead the offense in the 5-2 victory.
Hamilton’s victory over Horizon in the semifinal game was especially sweet because it was Horizon that was responsible for the season-opening loss that got the Huskies’ schedule off to a lousy start. This was the second time since then the Huskies exacted revenge, beating Horizon in the second round of the tourney as well.
This time it took a triple by Michael Brueser in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Hamilton the two runs it needed to break the 3-3 deadlock and then hold on for the win.
And finally, here’s another mathematical oddity. What are the chances that both schools would also be playing for the softball state championship?
Very slim, no doubt. But Pinnacle and Hamilton will, in fact, face off tonight for the 6A softball crown.