When the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in just about any tournament square off, it’s nearly a sure thing the contest will be competitive.
That description fit the Desert Vista-Mountain View clash Saturday in the first round of the 5A Division I state baseball tournament.
In meeting for the fourth time this season, Mountain View evened the season series with Desert Vista at two games apiece with a hard-fought, 4-1 win over the visiting Thunder. But more importantly, the Toros advanced in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tourney.
Mountain View (20-10) advances to play top seed Brophy at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Brophy beat Laveen Cesar Chavez in its first-round game. Desert Vista (19-12) plays a losers’ bracket game at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Desert Vista against Cesar Chavez.
Mountain View junior Aaron Rhodes reversed one of his two losses this season in tossing a five-hit complete game. Rhodes’ worst outing of the season came in his first varsity start on Feb. 25. On that day, the Thunder knocked him from the game after just 1 1 /3 innings of work in a 14-7 Thunder win in which Rhodes walked six batters and the Toros dug a deep hole from which they never recovered.
This time out Rhodes was sharp every inning but the fifth, when he pitched out of the only jam he faced and surrendered the lone Thunder run, which came on a solo homer by his mound opponent, Roy Metter.
By the time Metter homered, however, the Toros had secured a 4-0 lead on a pair of two-run innings (the first and third). A two-run single by hot-hitting Riley Nielsen in the first and an RBI single by Micah Yetter in the third were the key hits. The other key was Rhodes.
“It was important to us to get a lead,” Mountain View coach Mike Thiel said. “When we got the two in the first, Aaron followed it up and did a great job all day.”
Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich praised both teams, both pitchers and both defenses. He gave a little extra to Rhodes.
“He had good command and good velocity all day,” said Luketich, who had six underclassmen in his starting lineup. “This was a good game for us to get our feet wet.”