Gilbert has seen enough of Scott Hoffman. At the plate and on the mound.
The Desert Ridge junior pitched 5 2/3 innings of quality baseball and then added a two-run home run to help the Jaguars to a 5-4 victory over the Tigers.
The win advances defending state champion Desert Ridge into next weeks’ 5A-I state semifinals. The loss forces Gilbert into the loser’s bracket where it will face Tucson Salpointe on Tuesday.
Hoffman gave up four runs, but the junior didn’t allow the Tigers to get into a big inning. And when he gave up runs (the Jaguars fell behind twice in this game), the Desert Ridge offense came to the rescue.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Desert Ridge got an infield hit from Kyle Raidy, who moved to second base on a throwing error and scored when Austin Cain singled. Hoffman drilled a Hunter Herdt pitch over the left field fence to give the Jaguars a 4-3 lead.
It was a sweet moment for Hoffman, who was getting an earful from the Gilbert fans. Rounding first base, he pointed at the fans right next to the Gilbert dugout.
“They were talking. I had to answer that,” Hoffman said. “That amped me up. That set everyone off.”
Gilbert came back to tie the game at 4-4 on an RBI groundout from Rick Raydalch in the fifth. Desert Ridge answered that with one run in the bottom half of the inning. Russell Vaughan led off with a double and scored on a two-out single from Raidy.
Taylor Kaczmarek then worked 1 1/3 innings to get the save.
Hoffman admitted he didn’t have his best stuff on the mound and was limited in what he could do.
“About all I had was my fastball and I wasn’t keeping it down,” Hoffman said.
Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera knows the reason Hoffman was able to get the win using only one pitch.
“He’s a competitor,” Herrera said. “I remind him of that.”
Herrera was just glad his team got a win and avoided going into the loser’s bracket. He knows, by experience, what happens to most teams that have to go through the loser's bracket.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s awfully tough,” Herrera said.