After playing Mountain Ridge High School for three straight playoff games, the Hamilton High School baseball team was happy to be able to finally get past the Mountain Lions and meet up with Corona del Sol High School in the 6A state championship game.
Once in the title game, the Huskies took out their frustration on Corona, burying the Aztecs with a six-run assault in the first inning and going on to post an 8-1 victory.
Both teams took the long route to get to the title game. Corona, too, had to face the same team three times to get to the final. The Aztecs lost to Red Mountain High School in the third game of the state tourney and then had to beat Desert Vista High and Red Mountain twice in back-to-back games.
So maybe waiting a little extra time before actually starting the title game wasn’t so bad. A little extra time would have been one thing, but both teams sat out more than three hours waiting to take the field following the 5A championship between Horizon High School and Nogales High.
That game, which began at 5 p.m. at Tempe Diablo Stadium, went five hours and 35 minutes, setting a new Arizona high school record by lasting 16 innings before Horizon hoisted the trophy for the 7-4 victory. It was an unexpectedly long night for the estimated 5,000 fans that sat through the marathon.
The 6A game, scheduled to begin at 7:00, didn’t start until 10:35 and wrapped up at 12:30 the next morning.
There was probably no one among all the players any more nervous during the long wait than Logan Saloman. Hamilton’s pitcher is just a freshman, making the most important start of his young career. And he had plenty of time to think about it. In a game that didn’t start until what would have probably been his bed time on any other school night. And this was going to be his first trip to the mound during the playoffs.
Corona hitters tagged him for the Aztecs’ only run in the first inning, but once he settled into a rhythm, Saloman showed little sign of being effected by the late start. That lone Hamilton run was unearned and, once he got past the first inning, he put down 13 straight would-be hitters.
Saloman was the picture of control, giving up just four hits over seven innings and walking none.
Corona needed two pitchers to get through the contest. Daniel Sotelo started for the Aztecs, but was knocked off the mound two outs through the first inning after Hamilton had rode him to a 6-1 lead. Jack Schobinger finished the game, giving up seven more hits and the last two runs.
While Saloman took care of holding down the Corona offense, Brock Selvidge led the Hamilton attack, going 3-for-3 on the night that included a three-run homer that powered the Huskies’ six-run outburst in the first. Dustin Bermudez pitched in a pair of hits and Kyle Hasler contributed two RBIs to the effort.
Kaiden Frees and Brian Kalmer each poked out a couple of hits for the Aztecs.
While the long wait was something new to this crop of Hamilton players, it was deja vu for their coach. Mike Woods was coaching the Huskies back in 2003 when Chaparral High School set the record of 12 innings in a title game, the mark that these Huskies just erased.
It was his team that waited for that game to end before getting on the field to be able to claim the school’s first of seven state titles.