Before he recorded an out, Red Mountain left-hander Justin Hunsaker allowed five runners to reach base and two runs to score against Mesquite on Tuesday.
Then, he took control.
The Mountain Lions ace shook off the shaky start by getting out of the bases loaded jam without further damage, and No. 10 Red Mountain held on to defeat No. 2 Mesquite 8-6 in the second round of the 5A-I state tournament at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“We just needed to minimize it at that point,” Red Mountain coach Jason Grantham said of the first inning jam. “We got out of it in the best scenario possible with no runs (after the first two scored). That helped turn the confidence back to our side. They could have had all the momentum in the world.”
Hunsaker allowed just one more run through the next five innings, but Mesquite scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it interesting.
The bases were loaded with two outs in a two-run ballgame, but Forrest Hendershot got a strikeout to end the contest. Grantham said nerves kicked in late as the Mountain Lions barely held on.
“This is all a new experience for us,” Grantham said.
Red Mountain will stay in the winner’s bracket and face off with Mountain Pointe on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. Mesquite drops to the loser’s bracket and will play Laveen Cesar Chavez at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Mesquite led 2-1 after the first inning, but Red Mountain’s bats scored seven runs in the first three innings to take control.