May 15, 2005
It’s hard not to be inspired when your pitcher strikes out the side on 12 pitches — all strikes — in the second inning.
Horizon sophomore Tim Alderson was a strike machine Saturday night, fanning 11 Hamilton batters en route to a 10-0 six-inning victory in the 5A state championship game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
His pitching lit a fire under his teammates as the green and gold Huskies went on to top Hamilton’s Huskies in a game shortened to six innings by the 10-run rule.
Horizon’s victory prevented Hamilton from becoming the first team since Tucson High (1954-56) to win three state titles in succession. Horizon also avenged a 2003 championship-game loss to Hamilton and captured its third baseball title in school history. Horizon won back-toback crowns in 1995 and 1996.
‘‘He was special,’’ Horizon coach Eric Kibler said of Alderson. "That inning he gave us momentum. The guys knew if we could get him a couple we’d be in good shape.’’
Alderson (7-1) won his third game of the postseason and second of the state tournament. He was unscored upon in all three outings — a total of 18 innings. Alderson allowed just one earned run in 53 innings this season, an ERA of 0.13.
After Alderson struck out the side in the second inning, Mike Acosta belted a triple during a two-run third inning that put Horizon (28-9) in the lead, one the Huskies would not relinquish.
Acosta hit a sinking liner to right-center with one out. A dive by center fielder Hunter Pace failed to secure the ball, allowing Acosta to reach third and think about an inside-the-park home run. Acosta slipped rounding third and scrambled back safely. Jeff Urlaub, who had three hits in the game, drove in the first run with a single and Chris Lewis plated the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Senior shortstop Matt Hall blasted his 10th home run of the season during a three-run fifth-inning.
Hamilton (26-7) tried just about everything to unnerve the 6-foot-6, 190-pound Alderson, including stepping out and calling time, to disrupt his rhythm. Alderson allowed just three hits and struck out the side three times in quieting one of the top hitting teams in the state.
"When the bubble bursts, it bursts,’’ Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. ‘‘Their kid was lights out. Our approach was good. We were on his fastball, but not his slider. He was super.’’
Hamilton starter Jason Kudlock tried to stay with Alderson and did for four innings. But the hits started coming more often in the fifth and Kudlock (10-1) exited after allowing five runs in 4 1 /3 innings. Kudlock missed the semis with a high fever and nausea, but rebounded to make the title game start.
Horizon put the game away with five runs in the sixth. Urlaub highlighted the inning with a two-run double. He and Tucker Rubino finished with three RBIs each.
‘‘This is the most special championship for me in my career,’’ Kibler said. ‘‘That’s no slam to the ’95 and ’96 teams. The chemistry of this team is phenomenal.’’