MP’s offense is blasting away at record book - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

MP’s offense is blasting away at record book

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Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 6:00 pm | Updated: 5:10 pm, Mon May 9, 2011.

Quinn Tucker doesn't swing like a middle of the order guy, he isn't built like one at 6-foot-4 and 165 pounds and he isn't needed to hit there in the Mountain Pointe lineup.

But his numbers sure say otherwise.

The senior outfielder is hitting .513 with 18 RBIs as the Pride's ninth hitter.

"I don't know what is going on with Q, but he has been unconscious," fellow senior Anthony Balderrama said. "He is our ninth hitter and he has a ton of clutch hits and RBIs."

Tucker's season gives an idea of the pressure opposing pitchers deal with when they are facing the Pride, which won 16 of its first 20 games.

"His numbers are what a lot of three or four hitters are for other teams," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. "Our lineup is tough top to bottom."

The Mountain Pointe nine is unforgiving and never allows a breather for a pitcher to collect himself.

"I sit there at the bottom of the lineup and they think they might get a chance to get an out, but I've been swinging a hot bat," Tucker said. "I just want to flip the order back up to the top and let them do some more damage."

Damage might be an understatement.

The offense has been great all season, but has really been on a tear the last few games. There was a recent five-game stretch in which Mountain Pointe averaged 16.8 runs a game to bring the season total up 244 (12.2 a game) through 20 games.

"We can definitely hit home runs (56 through 20 games, four off the school record), but lately we have been putting the ball in play and just having good at-bats," Buck said. "We knew we'd have a good offense, but these guys have been unbelievable."

Desert Vista junior left-hander Hunter Rodriguez faced Mountain Pointe during that five-game offensive barrage. He shutout the Pride for three innings, but after that the offense just started piling on.

"I left some pitches up and you can't do that against that lineup," Rodriguez said after the game. "They don't let too many bad pitches go unpunished."

In the middle of it all is possibly the state's best hitter in senior catcher Kevin Cron, but the state's all-time career home run leader wouldn't be seeing as many pitches to hit if it wasn't for the people protecting him in the lineup.

Senior Jordan Kipper (.377, 6 HRs), Cron, junior Joey Curletta and Balderrama form a terrifically terrifying middle of the lineup as the 2-3-4-5 hitters.

"Kevin couldn't be Kevin without those guys, especially Joey," Buck said. "I know of at least two times for sure (Cron) was intentionally walked and Joey backed it up with a home run."

Cron, Curletta and Balderrama all have more than 30 RBIs and have combined for 36 home runs (in 20 games).

Cron was hitting .585 through 19 games with 16 home runs, Curletta was at .438 and pushed his home run total to 13 with two against Skyline and Balderrama was hitting .480 with seven home runs.

The team batting average through 19 games was .414, which is in vicinity of the Class 5A record of .423 set by Scottsdale Coronado in 1982. That might not be reachable, but the 5A record of 76 home runs by Desert Vista in 1999 is definitely on the radar.

"I wouldn't want to have to face us," said Balderrama, a utility player who sees time at catcher. "There is no let up and I wouldn't know what pitch to call. We make it tough on everyone we face."

That's because sophomore Brantley Bell (.397), junior Scott Kingery (.405), senior Justin Tibbitt (.418) and others keep on bashing right along with everyone else in the lineup.

"I just stand at third (coaching) watching everyone hit, clap and wave them around," said Buck, whose left shoulder has to be sore from all of the base runners going past. "We tell them just put the ball in play hard somewhere and good things are going to happen."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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Jason P. Skoda
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