This has been an entertaining 5A-I baseball tournament thus far, with a lot of competitive games and some unforgettable moments.
Now, it’s down to Mountain Pointe vs. Desert Ridge in the championship game on Saturday in Glendale. A few quick thoughts:
- Desert Ridge is the hottest team in the state, and by beating Gilbert in one game on Thursday, it sets up the pitching perfectly. Scott Hoffman can start on a week’s rest, and more than likely, Taylor Kaczmarek would be available for an inning or two if needed.
- As for Mountain Pointe, it might have to throw the kitchen sink out there. Josh Alexander only threw an inning on Thursday, but Joey Rocha and Kevin Cron both threw a lot of pitches. I’m not sure who will start, but I wouldn’t be surprised if coach Brandon Buck tried to get a couple innings out of each of those guys.
- Kevin Cron’s leg injury could come into play. He is probably the most intimidating hitter in the state, and it’s impossible to keep him out of the lineup because he is capable of hitting multiple home runs in the game. However, he’s almost an automatic out on any ground ball to the infield since it takes him forever to get down the line. Buck joked on Thursday that the team is looking for a prosthetic leg for him because it wouldn’t make him any slower. Cron was smashing line drives against Mesquite, but if the game is close, his at-bats could end up being a big factor one way or the other.
- Mesquite ran a lot against Cron. He was very accurate and threw out at least one runner, but he can’t really plant on the leg, so there is less velocity on the ball.
- Both offenses are among the best in the state. With Cron and Alexander in the middle, keeping the first two Mountain Pointe batters off the bases is crucial. Joey Curletta is a very feast-or-famine type hitter in the five-hole. I saw him knock two home runs in a game in this tournament, but also strike out quite a bit. He’s a wild card, kind of a Mark Reyolds-type guy. Kaczmarek and Travis Flores are Desert Ridge’s two big boppers, but the whole lineup can hit.
- Overall, Desert Ridge has to be favored for this game. It has proven itself all season and has rolled through the state tournament. While I think Mountain Pointe’s bracket was a little tougher, Desert Ridge beat Desert Vista, Salpointe and Gilbert a combined four straight times. That’s impressive.
Prediction: Desert Ridge 7, Mountain Pointe 4.