The Mountain Pointe baseball program finally ended a season without disappointment, one where the seniors walked away with zero regret and worthy of their hard work.
The Pride won the school's first title on the diamond Saturday with an emotional, extra-inning affair as they beat Chandler Hamilton 7-6 in eight innings at Camelback Ranch Stadium.
It was the culmination of a great run as Mountain Pointe made it to the semifinals for the third time in four years and twice made the championship game.
"I couldn't be more proud of this group and these seniors," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. "Three of the four years we've been to two state title games and a semifinal. That's pretty good work."
The job was finished when senior Jordan Kipper singled down the third-base line off reliever Parker Gallegos to score Sam Kingery, who started the inning with a single, advanced to second on a great sacrifice bunt turned into a single by Quinn Tucker and moved to third on Scott Kingery's sac bunt.
Kipper's hit was his 12th of the postseason and might have been the most painful after getting mobbed by his teammates on the infield.
"I couldn't write it up any better than that," said Kipper, who had four hits in five at-bats in the title game and now equals his father, Bruce, who is the school's principal and who won a state championship of his own with Tempe High as a senior.
Kipper came through in the end but there were so many contributors to the game and the season.
Kevin Cron was the definition of a "horse" on the mound as the big right-hander didn't have his best stuff but managed to go the distance while striking out 14, walking seven (one intentional) and hitting two batters. He allowed seven hits and five earned runs.
"I struggled a couple of innings, but this was my game," the Texas Christian recruit said. "There was no way I was giving up the ball. I was going to go out a winner with my teammates and I was ready to do whatever it took."
Then there is Tucker, who had very little success at the varsity level before this season, but played with a core of the seniors as far back as the Ahwatukee Dodgers when they were 10 years old.
He hit a leadoff triple in the sixth inning and eventually scored on a Kipper single to tie the game at six. Then his bunt in the eighth kept the inning going without giving up an out on a perfectly placed bunt that snuck in between the pitcher and first baseman leaving the second baseman nowhere to go with the ball.
Tucker hit .494 on the year with 30 RBIs. Not bad for a ninth hitter.
"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."
The seniors walk away champions, but the Pride bring back plenty of experience in an attempt to keep things rolling.
The power supply will remain with junior first baseman Joey Curletta, who has 28 home runs over the last two years, including 21 this year.
The twin Kingery boys, juniors, provide stability up the middle, state title game experience with baseball instincts that are hard to beat.
The infield could be rounded out at third base by sophomore Brantley Bell, the son of former Diamondback Jay, as he started every game this season.
It's a core that will put the Pride back into the thick of things when the team reconvenes next season.
"I don't know if we can be as good as this team because we had some great senior leadership and players," Scott Kingery said. "But we know how to get here and we want to keep it going."
Kyle Odegard contributed to this story.
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