State baseball: A Pride-ful ending as MP wins state - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Prep Sports

State baseball: A Pride-ful ending as MP wins state

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Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 10:51 pm | Updated: 5:00 pm, Thu Jun 16, 2011.

GLENDALE - Jordan Kipper had many moments to reflect.

It started when he grabbed dirt from the infield at Camelback Ranch Stadium, and later when the Mountain Pointe baseball team broke its celebratory huddle, he peeled off by himself and raised his hands to the sky.

Those initials thoughts will eventually fade, but the fact that he gave the Pride its first state title will remain forever.

Kipper hit the game-winning, walk-off single to left in the eighth inning that scored Sam Kingery from third after he was bunted there by twin brother, Scott, to give the Pride a 7-6 win over Hamilton for the 5A Division I state title.

"There was no way we were going to be denied," said Kipper, who tied the game in the sixth with a RBI single. "There are only so many opportunities and this was our second one. We weren't going to let it pass again."

The Pride (28-5) has been an offensive force all season, leading most of their games from the start and winning several by the mercy rule. But this time they had to battle back to win against a Hamilton program that has won three state titles since 2003 and finished runner-up three other times.

"This is about the seniors' determination," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. "We've been down in games this year and found a way to come back. I told them (after giving up the lead in the fifth inning) that this was only going to make it more fun and more sweet. Someone was going to come through for us and there was no one else I'd rather have up there than Jordan."

Kipper, unofficially, went 12 for 18 this postseason with eight RBIs.

"I have played with Jordan since we were 5 years old and he works as hard as anyone and busts his butt," said senior and winning pitcher Kevin Cron, who was in the on deck circle when Kipper came through. "He deserves it. I have never felt this kind of emotion before."

It almost never happened.

Hamilton, which trailed in every playoff game, started its trademark comeback in the fourth when Parker Osborne hit a two-run home run off Cron (8-1) to close within 5-3.

The real damage was done in the fifth when Cron, who threw over 100 pitches, walked two batters before Trent Goodrich hit a two-run, two-out triple to tie it at 5-5. Goodrich came around to score when Kyle Peckloff hit a smash that third baseman Brantley Bell snared heading toward the line, but his throw was wild and got past first baseman Joey Curletta.

"I struggled a couple of innings, but this was my game," said Cron, who struck out 14, walked seven and gave up seven hits in eight innings. "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."

Jake Andrews did something very few pitchers were able to do through 32 games: Hold Mountain Pointe in check outside a crazy first inning. He gave up nine hits, six runs, struck out seven and walked three.

"Jake Andrews was terrific," Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. "He had his sinker working and they got some infield singles that snuck through. It is the way it goes sometimes."

The only way the Pride was able to score against him early on came in the form of a fluky fashion as they pushed across five runs in the first inning that was generated by a murky scoring play.

With runners on first and second, Curletta hit a slow roller to Mitch Nay at third, whose throw to first was up the line.

Curletta and the ball arrived at the same time into first baseman Brenner Pearson's glove and Curletta's momentum spun Pearson around. The ball left his mitt and landed about 100 feet away behind second base as Scott Kingery and Kipper scored.

"(Andrews) got through that and really settled in," Woods said. "He faced the best lineup I've seen a long time and battled them."

Then Andrews shut Mountain Pointe, which lost in the state final last season, down for four innings before Quinn Tucker started the sixth with a triple and came around on Kipper's RBI single.

It set the stage for one more at-bat in Kipper's career, one more pitch for a group of seniors that mostly played together since little league and an opportunity for the Pride to celebrate like never before.

"There is so much to take in right now," Kipper said after the win. "I am not sure what to think about it. Just letting it soak in."

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

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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