Mesa High was one strike away from putting out the only fire it faced in Monday's 5A East Valley Region play-in baseball game with Red Mountain. But unfortunately for the Jackrabbits, they did not get that strike and subsequently the third out of the fourth inning in time.
James Faccio, Josh Clark and Jason Argos laced consecutive run-scoring singles to account for all four of Red Mountain's runs as the Mountain Lions rallied to top Mesa, 4-2, at Hohokam Park.
Red Mountain (12-16), the No. 5 seed, had lost three times to No. 4 seed Mesa (9-21) during region play, but by virtue of Monday's victory the Mountain Lions advance to a best-of-three region series with Dobson for the third and final spot from the region at state. Game time today is 4 p.m. at Hohokam.
"We've been depending too much on our top guys in our order," Red Mountain coach Henry Faccio said. "Finally at the tail end of the year we're getting something from others. They are stepping up."
Red Mountain trailed Mesa 2-0 after three innings thanks to an RBI single by the Jackrabbits' Brett Lytle that scored one run in the third. The other run scored when Lytle got caught in a rundown after his hit and bought enough time for another run to score before he was tagged out.
Mesa starter Andre Fernandez took a one-hitter into the fourth, but walks to Will Race and Travis Johnson and a hit-by-pitch (Steve Downing) loaded the bases for Red Mountain with two outs. After Fernandez fell behind Faccio 2-0, Mesa coach Steve Gourde called to his bullpen for Cory Wingate. Wingate worked the count to 3-2, but the 3-2 pitch was hit to center to bring in a run and cut the lead to 2-1. Josh Clark, hitting all of .118 heading into the game, followed with a two-run single and Argos capped the rally with and RBI single scoring Faccio.
From there Red Mountain starter Kris Tidwell took off. Tidwell (4-4) allowed just two hits in the final four innings and finished with a five-hitter.