Desert Vista's Jacob Brugman gets some high fives after hitting a solo homr run that have the Thunder a 5-4 lead over Gilbert Desert Ridge in the opening round of the state baseball playoffs. Larry Ward/AFN

This time last year Mountain Pointe was giving a collective sigh of relief over securing the final spot in the state baseball playoffs while fourth-seeded Desert Vista was preparing to make a run at a third state championship.

Things have changed this season.

Mountain Pointe secured a sixth seed among the 16 teams that earn a berth in the double-elimination playoff based on the Arizona Interscholastic Association power ranking system while Desert Vista had to put on a rally in the final two weeks of the season to get on board.

Mountain Pointe is looking for some payback. The Pride was bounced from the playoffs after the second round last season.

In the opening round of this year's playoffs last weekend, the Pride easily handled Laveen Cesar Chavez, 12-2, and received a second shot at Chandler Hamilton, which beat the Pride, 3-0, during the regular season two weeks ago.

That second round game took place Tuesday afternoon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. For a full report of that contest go to ahwatukee.com.

Down the road at Desert Vista, baseball coach Stan Luketich has always preached about the little things making a difference.

That sermon grabbed new believers after the Thunder, who made it to the semifinals last season, jumped from an overlooked 23rd seed two weeks ago to the final spot in the 16-team state 5A-I playoffs.

Victories over Mountain Pointe, Chandler, Tempe Corona del Sol and a two-game sweep of Phoenix Brophy helped the Thunder get into the playoffs by two-tenths of a percentage point in the power rankings (97.778 - 97.5) ahead of Corona.

And then the Thunder came within eight outs of upsetting top-ranked Gilbert Desert Ridge in the opening round of the playoffs last weekend.

After falling behind early, Desert Vista scored three runs in the top of the fifth to lead the Jaguars, 5-4.

But then, everything that was going right went wrong.

Desert Ridge scored eight runs in the bottom of the fifth and cruised to a 14-6 victory.

Until the wheels came off, the Thunder got a solid pitching performance from sophomore Hunter Rodriguez, and senior Jacob Brugman, who is headed to Brigham Young University this fall, was 2-for-4 with a solo home run in a game the Thunder led 5-4 in the fifth inning.

Ryan Modi was 2-for-3 with a double while Casey Thomas went 2-for-4 for the Thunder.

"For five innings we did OK, but it's not a five-inning game," Luketich said. "They're a good team, best in the state, and we made some mistakes, didn't make pitches and the game got away from us."

The Thunder was scheduled to face ninth-seeded Glendale Mountain Ridge in a loser's bracket game on Tuesday afternoon, and the results of that contest can be found on ahwatukee.com.

 

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