The Mountain Pointe baseball team began the postseason with the big-picture ideal that it would take 105 more outs to win a state title.
That thought process changed a bit Tuesday afternoon when the Pride entered the seventh inning tailing by two runs.
Mountain Pointe had three outs left to make something happen.
A grand slam by Brantley Bell looked to be a little bit overkill but the Pride ended up needing every single one of those runs as third-seeded Desert Ridge rallied but came up short in Mountain Pointe’s 6-5 win in the second round of the Division I state tournament.
“No one is playing for themselves and it shows,” Pride coach Brandon Buck said. “The only way we could do it was have good at bats and give somebody a chance. It really helps when you have a three hitter (in Bell) who has the capability of doing something like that.”
Now the Pride can gp back to the big picture outlook as the double elimination portion of the Division I state tournament begins on Thursday with a very familiar foe.
The 14th-seeded Pride will face rival Desert Vista, the No. 22 seed, on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 4 p.m.
Mountain Pointe (21-7) was able to take advantage of a rare off day play player of the year candidate Riley Unroe, who had control problems in relief of starter Skyler Cohn (5 1/3, 4 hits, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 4 so, 1 bb).
Unroe came in after Cohn gave up a one-out walk to Cole Tucker and a single to Bell, who rounded first hard and drew an errant throw at first to score Tucker to close within 2-1.
Unroe closed out the inning despite walking two to load the bases, but it was a sign of things to come.
After Desert Ridge (26-6) tacked on Dylan Cook’s second RBI single of the game off Pride starter Jorge Carrazco (6 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, 2 so, 1 bb), Mountain Pointe’s Taylor Martin, who made two big defensive plays at first base, opened the inning with a single off Unroe.
Tommy Martinez walked and after failing to get down a sacrifice bunt Ernie de la Trinidad hit the ball through the left side that somehow got through the hole to score pinch-runner Nick Coronado. Another walk to Tucker loaded the bases.
Unroe went to 2-1 on Bell and had to come with a fastball. Bell turned it around and it left the park over the center-field fence.
“I keep the same approach every time and Riley is an awesome pitcher,” Bell said. “You know he has good stuff so you just want to be short and quick to it.”
Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera, who visited the mound after the walk to Tucker but left Unroe in, followed the formula of the season, but it just didn’t work out for one of the very few times this season.
“I’ll take the blame,” he said. “I probably left him in too long but that’s been the rotation we’ve done all year. Maybe I kept him in too long.”
The Jaguars didn’t go quietly in the seventh against Zach Cordova, who got the save and will start against the Thunder.
“We didn’t put the game away and we fought until the very end,” Herrera said. “We had a couple swings there to tie it but didn’t get it done.”
Cam Richins led off with a double for his third hit and Unroe was hit by a pitch. The Pride’s Martin made a nice running catch of flare that might have fallen for a double for the first out. Tyler Flores reached to score Richins and a balk scored Unroe to make it 6-5.
With the tying run in scoring position, Cordova came back to strikeout the final two batters for the win.
“With Zach on the mound we feel good and when he got ahead he has his full arsenal,” Buck said. “He’s a gamer and he’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”
That’s when the countdown begins again – just 84 more outs to go.
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