The scenes were about 20 miles and three hours apart on Thursday, but nonetheless felt much the same.
Like a shot on the bridge of the nose, the sudden jolt that comes with the realization that a season, and in some cases a career, is over can bring pain and make the eyes water.
The Mountain Pointe baseball team and Desert Vista boys volleyball team know it all too well after each had their seasons end dramatically.
The Pride, seeded 14th, gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a 6-5 loss to No. 10 Chaparral at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Then later in the evening the top-seeded Thunder went down 3-1 to No. 4 Gilbert on Gilbert’s home court.
Losing teams in postseason elimination games usually act very similar. There is the silence, the milling around and the collection of equipment.
Once the ritual has ended then the emotional exchanges, mostly hugs, with seniors getting the most attention from the coaches as time together ends.
“I loved my teammates like brothers,” Desert Vista senior Ryan Adams said. “We didn’t get what we wanted, but nothing will take away the memories of this team.”
While seniors use the time to reflect, the underclassmen use the defeat as motivation.
“Next year’s looking bright for us,” Pride junior shortstop Cole Tucker said. “We are ready to go. I wish the first game was tomorrow. We are going to be seasoned and it will be a lot of fun. We’re ready to do some damage.”
Here is a look at how each team met their fate:
Top-seeded Thunder ousted in semis by Gilbert
Desert Vista nearly climbed out of the depths of elimination Thursday but it proved to be too much for the top-seeded Thunder.
Desert Vista had been able to overcome every obstacle all season, but losing the first two matches on Gilbert’s home court, a barrier in itself, was its downfall as the fourth-seeded Tigers prevailed 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 30-28.
“We came out slow and didn’t recover,” senior Brock Wilson said. “We made a run, but it was too much. We had some bad calls, in my opinion, go against us. We just didn’t get the job done.”
The Thunder were up 12-6 in Game 1 but let it slip away after Gilbert took a 19-18 lead. Game 2 was back and forth until the Tigers ripped open a 15-14 lead by pushing the lead to 20-15 before closing it out.
Desert Vista showed some life in Game 3 by finishing on a 12-6 run to erase a 16-13 deficit.
Game 4 was epic as it wasn’t decided until a block by Gilbert’s Jarrett Neal and middle blocker Nic Gibson’s 15th kill provided the difference after each team had three shots at game point before it was decided.
Mountain Pointe knocked out by Chaparral
Ninety feet is the perfect distance between bases, but on Thursday afternoon it must have felt more like 90 miles for Mountain Pointe.
The Pride lost 6-5 to two-time defending state champion Chaparral in the Division I consolation bracket at Tempe Diablo Stadium when the Firebirds scored three runs in the bottom of the six for the win.
It might have never come to that if Mountain Pointe didn’t leave five runners stranded at third base.
Throughout the season the Pride has driven in that run so many times, but that last 90 feet wasn’t to be against Chaparral.
“Baseball sounds simple — you get them on, you get them over, you get them in, but... you’re not going to score them 100 percent of the time,” Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. “Obviously, you’d like to do that.”
Collin Gabel was the hero, lacing a 2-0 fastball into left field to drive in Andrew Shaps for the go-ahead run. All three Firebirds runs in the sixth inning were unearned after third baseman Michael Weaver threw wide to second base on a potential inning-ending double play ball.
The game went back and forth early until the Pride went ahead 5-3 on a two-run triple in the bottom of the fourth by Weaver. Jorge Carrazco settled down on the mound in the middle innings and Mountain Pointe seemed on its way to victory.
Chaparral right-hander Michael Diamond got a double play to extinguish a two-on, one-out threat from the Pride in the top of the sixth, which set up the rally in the bottom of the frame.
The Pride scored five runs but stranded nine runners, including five at third base.
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