May 14, 2005
Two feet separated Scottsdale Christian from a chance to defend its 2A state championship and oblivion Friday.
Those two feet were the distance between Yuma Catholic center fielder Erick Martinez’s outstretched mitt and the two-out, seventh-inning, game-tying single of SCA’s Michael Burnell.
Burnell’s sharp single capped a two-run seventhinning rally for the Eagles and Brad Qualley drove in the winning run with a basesloaded walk in the eighth as Scottsdale Christian nipped Yuma Catholic, 7-6, in a semifinal matchup at Maryvale Baseball Park.
The Eagles (19-7) will face East Region champion Thatcher at 4 p.m. today in the finals.
"We felt we should have had the game done. We made some mistakes that cost us a couple runs," said SCA coach Bill Swift. "We battled. We can hit. We can do some things to score some runs"
SCA led 4-2 entering the sixth — both Shamrock runs unearned — but Yuma Catholic strung together five hits in the sixth to take a 6-4 lead.
In the seventh, SCA’s Eric King walked with one out and scored on Jordan Isaac’s double. Isaac scored one out later when Burnell’s rip eluded the Shamrocks (22-7).
The Eagles stranded two more runners in the seventh and nearly left three more in the eighth, with Seth Rutt, King and Isaac on base with two outs. Shamrock pitcher Matt Gracey, who pitched all eight innings, went 3-2 on Qualley before throwing a pitch in the dirt to end the game.
"If it’s close he’s usually swinging at it," Swift said of Qualley’s final at-bat. "He showed great discipline."
Will Munsil, the winner of last year’s state championship game, pitched one inning in relief and picked up the win. Swift said Munsil will start today, with Qualley and perhaps King waiting in the wings.
"I have to (start Munsil)," Swift said. "He’s my ace. I’ve got to go with my best."
THATCHER 5, VALLEY CHRISTIAN 2: Thatcher’s Travis Householder scattered five hits as the Eagles (22-8) eliminated the Metro Region champion Trojans (22-5).
"Some days you get beat and today was one of those days," said Trojan coach Mike Moore. "Their pitcher wasn’t anything special to be honest, but he threw strikes and we had no timely hitting."
2A state championship
Who: Scottsdale Christian (19-7) vs. Thatcher (22-8)
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: Maryvale Baseball Park