May 13, 2005
He had only been part of a dozen at-bats this season, but Horizon senior Brandon Schoeneck was confident his turn to contribute would come.
‘‘Coach told me to be ready,’’ Schoeneck said. ‘‘He said one of the games this week I’d get a key hit.’’
That bit of coaching prophecy came true in the ninth inning Thursday when Schoeneck ripped a two-out opposite-field double scoring pinch runner Joey Bristyan with the winning run as the Huskies edged Desert Vista 4-3 in a dramatic 5A semifinal baseball game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
‘‘What a ball game,’’ Horizon coach Eric Kibler said. ‘‘That has to be one of the top-three I’ve been involved in all time. Kids on both teams made great plays. You can’t tell me Bank One Ballpark can give you more bang for your buck.’’
Horizon (27-9) advances to face two-time defending champ Hamilton, a 6-5 semifinal winner over Yuma Cibola, on Saturday for the state title at 8 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Horizon will be making its second championship game appearance in three years and its fourth in the 25-year history of the program. It will be a rematch of the 2003 game won by Hamilton, 5-1.
Schoeneck’s pinch hit allowed Horizon to take the lead for the first time time in the game. It allowed lefthander Jeff Urlaub (6-4), a staple of the Huskies staff the last three seasons, the chance to close out a complete game.
The well-rested senior, who logged just one inning of pitching the last two weeks, gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth. He wasted little time in picking off pinch runner Mike Barker for the first out. Three pitches later Urlaub had induced ground outs to second and third basemen Tucker and Chris Rubino, respectively, and sent the Huskies into celebration. The Thunder stood stunned having been one pitch away in the top of the seventh from a 3-2 win and a berth in the championship game.
Desert Vista sophomore Roy Metter, who threw 14 pitches Wednesday to help close out Glendale Mountain Ridge in the quarterfinals, had scattered seven hits through 6 2 /3 innings Thursday as the Thunder’s starter.
Metter and the Thunder held a 3-2 lead with Horizon’s Kevin Rhoderick at-bat with a a 2-2 count. They could taste a victory. But Rhoderick turned on Metter’s 2-2 pitch and slammed a home run 350 feet over the left-field fence to tie it at 3 and buy the Huskies more time.
Metter lasted 7 2 /3 innings. He walked one and struck out none. Thunder ace Max Mooney (9-1) relieved Metter in the eighth and got the final out of that inning. Mooney, who beat Tucson Sahuaro on Tuesday, surrendered two hits in the ninth, including the game-winner by Schoeneck.
‘‘It was a great high school game, lot of great plays,’’ Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich said. ‘‘You have to give their kid credit hitting the home run that tied it. We had a great season.’’