GLENDALE - Before the season began, Mountain Pointe baseball coach Brandon Buck went around and told all of his players the role they would have on the team.

Quinn Tucker was the utility guy and defensive wizard.

Nowhere in that conversation did Buck tell Tucker he would be a state championship game hero.

Tucker, Mountain Pointe's No. 9 hole hitter, had a pair of crucial hits in the 7-6, eight-inning victory over Hamilton on Saturday at Glendale Camelback Ranch.

The first came in the sixth inning, when he blasted a leadoff triple to center field and then scored the game's tying run. The other was in the eighth inning, when Tucker's perfectly placed bunt single, first designed to be a sacrifice, put runners on first and second with nobody out. Another sacrifice and a single later, and the Pride were the 5A Division I baseball champions.

"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Tucker said. "We've been working our whole baseball lives for this moment."

Tucker struggled some early in the season and would often be replaced in the lineup by a designated hitter. However, he came on strong late and ended up hitting close to .500 on the season. He only had a handful of hits last season but was a key part of the championship game run this year.

"It was just a situation where it took him getting a base hit here or there, and then him understanding that, hey, this is easy," Buck said. "He had an unbelievable senior year."

Tucker was 0-for-2 heading into the sixth inning, but Buck said he had no thoughts of going to a pinch-hitter as the team trailed 6-5 with six outs remaining.

Tucker rewarded that faith, nailing a fastball to center field and legging out a triple.

"It's awesome seeing your teammates do it, but there's no feeling in the world like doing it yourself," Tucker said. "Everyone knows they can count on me. It's a great feeling."

Tucker was asked to do much less in his next at-bat, but it may have been the most important one of the game. Down in the count 0-1, he laid down a sacrifice bunt that split the first baseman and pitcher perfectly. By the time Hamilton second baseman Derek Hill picked up the grounder, he had no play.

Tucker was on second base when Jordan Kipper hit a single down the line to score the winning run.

"It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off me," Tucker said. "There's no feeling like it. It's weird, you actually don't even know what to do. Everyone thinks it's this glorious moment, but it was kind of an awkward thing, not knowing what to do with your hands, or where to go."

That may have been the case after the game, but Tucker couldn't have done much more during the action.

"This is just phenomenal," he said.

 

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