ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Ryan Casillas: The Chandler Hamilton sophomore was 6-for-8 with three home runs and 11 RBIs last week in helping the Huskies to a pair of Fiesta Region wins. Casillas is hitting .459 with four homers and 21 RBIs in his first year on varsity. His two-home run game last week included a three-run blast and grand slam, the latter the game-winner.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
Gilbert Mesquite was on the verge of a maybe no-hitting, possibly shutting out or likely 10-running Fiesta Region rival Gilbert High Wednesday in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Wildcats owned a 10-0 lead with Casey Rana baffling Tigers hitters the first four frames. In fact, Rana had a perfect game through four innings.
Gilbert managed to avoid a perfect game, no-hitter and a shutout in the fifth — and then some. The Tigers plated 11 runs in their half of the fifth to take an 11-10 lead. The next three innings the game see-sawed until Cody Repenning’s two-out, three-run homer in the last of the eighth earned Gilbert a 19-17 victory.
Repenning’s homer was the seventh round-tripper hit in the game by the teams, who also combined to use nine pitchers and collect 43 hits. Mesquite set a school record with 26 hits but also suffered the most infamous loss in school history in the process.
THUNDER SEEK LIGHTNING IN BOTTLE
Phoenix Desert Vista is scratching and clawing to get in the top 16 of the power-point rankings in a bid to get back to the 5A-I state tournament where it was a surprise final four team last season.
The Thunder has had to piece together a pitching staff decimated by several injuries. Sophomore outfielder Jaycob Brugman, a varsity veteran from last season, has helped out by earning three wins on the mound and belting seven home runs. Junior infielder-pitcher Cole Pembroke also has three wins and broke out an extra-base barrage Wednesday, ripping a double, triple and homer and driving in seven runs in a rout of Phoenix Central. The duo leads Desert Vista in innings pitched, Pembroke at 32 and Brugman at 24.
BRONCOS EYE WOLVES
Phoenix Brophy doesn’t have the experience of previous teams, but the Broncos haven’t yielded in the Desert Valley Region. Coming off the national Cleats Invitational and a 10-inning win against Scottsdale Horizon, Brophy has consecutive meetings against Scottsdale Desert Mountain (also undefeated) in the next five days.
“I still don’t think we’ve come close to being as good as we can this year, but we seem to take a step forward each game,” Brophy coach Tom Succow said. “We’re starting to do all the little things that’ve helped, and we think Desert Mountain is the team we have to beat in order to win the region.”
Mesa Red Mountain pitcher-infielder Derek Mendoza is enjoying a torrid streak at the plate for the 15-7 Mountain Lions. In his last four games Mendoza has collected at least two hits and raised his average from .323 to .417. His hitting totals dating back to last Wednesday are 12-for-17 with four doubles and 10 RBIs.
The top games on today’s 5A schedule are: Horizon at Mesa Desert Ridge (4 p.m.) in the Pima Region, Desert Mountain at Brophy (7 p.m.) in the Desert Valley Region; Red Mountain at Mesa (4 p.m.) in the East Valley Region and Saturday, Chandler vs. Hamilton at Chase Field at 5 p.m. The top 4A game pits Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor at Scottsdale Chaparral on Saturday at noon in a non-region contest.
— Les Willsey and Mark Heller