John Ferrendelli had a rough second inning on Tuesday night, nearly giving away the entire four-run lead teammate Jake Howard staked him to minutes earlier.
At that point, Mesquite baseball coach Jeff Holland may have already been cycling through relief pitching options in his head.
But the senior right-hander made sure a replacement wasn’t needed, holding Hamilton to one hit and no runs the rest of the way in a 7-3 win in a Division I loser’s bracket game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Ferrendelli finished with the complete-game victory, striking out eight.
Holland had a feeling Ferrendelli was settling down when he couldn’t get his attention in the dugout.
“He was in the zone,” Holland said. “You saw it in his eyes. I go, ‘Johnny, how do you feel?’ He didn’t answer me, so I said, ‘OK, he’s going (the whole game).’”
Said Ferrendelli: “I don’t even remember him talking to me.”
Hamilton’s best chance came in the top of the fourth inning, when it trailed 6-3 but had runners on first and third with nobody out. However, Ferrendelli escaped the jam unscathed, helped by a diving play at second base by Brad Holland for the final out.
Mesquite jumped out to the early lead quickly.
Seth Fretheim, Ferrendelli and Garrett Jeffries all singled to open the game, and Howard, the team’s cleanup hitter, followed with a grand slam.
The Huskies battled back with three runs on four hits in the second inning but couldn’t get over the hump.
These two teams are very familiar with each other and have faced off in the postseason several times in the past few seasons.
Holland and Hamilton coach Mike Woods golfed together on Sunday and commiserated about the situation.
“(We knew) one of us was going to go home broken-hearted,” Holland said.
The Wildcats move on to face Sandra Day O’Connor on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Glendale Camelback Ranch and are two wins away from the state championship game.