The 5A Division II baseball title chase has played out pretty close to the way many thought it would.
The stacked Pima Region has advanced Mesa Desert Ridge and defending champion Scottsdale Horizon to the state championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It's a rubber match because the teams split two meetings in mid-April.
Most believe Desert Ridge (28-5) has the edge with standout Jake Barrett ready to take the ball after a week of rest and an offense that scored the most runs in the Pima. Horizon (24-9) brings back-to-back titles (a 5A-I title in 2007 and last year's 5A-II crown) to the fray.
Desert Ridge carries a power-packed reputation while Horizon is looked at more as an overachieving bunch.
Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera doesn't buy it.
"I've heard that too, but with kids like Tommy Joseph and Brandon Snyder, heck, they've got some players," Herrera said. "I'm proud of our seniors. They've gotten us further every year. We want to go out and see if we can break Horizon's streak."
Horizon won the first matchup between the two teams on April 16 at Horizon. The Huskies pulled off a six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to beat Barrett and the Jaguars, capped by a walk-off three-run double by Joseph. Less than a week later at Desert Ridge, Kris Ashby found a way to tame Horizon's offense in a 7-1 triumph.
Horizon should have its ace, Joey Danner, available to start for the first time this year against Desert Ridge.