There’s a reason a suicide squeeze bunt is named what it is, and Desert Ridge baseball coach Patrick Herrera knows that.
Herrera, whose team had rallied from a three-run deficit to tie its 5A Division II state tournament elimination game with Tucson Sunnyside on Thursday, decided to try a suicide squeeze to break the tie and turn a big inning into a knockout inning. The move failed, and the Jaguars were left wondering what if, as the Blue Devils settled down and held on for a 5-4 victory in eight innings at Maryvale Sports Complex in Phoenix.
“There’s a reason it’s called a suicide squeeze,” Herrera said. “I don’t know. I’ll lose sleep over that one.”
Herrera’s crucial call came after the Jaguars, down 3-0, opened the top half of the sixth inning by putting the first five runners on base, with three scoring. Sunnyside starter Luis Hernandez left the game with runners on first and third and no outs and reliever Brian Cruz took over against Desert Ridge’s Clay Busch.
With Robert Shoemaker coming down the line from third, Busch squared to bunt, but Cruz’s pitch sailed over his head. Sunnyside catcher Carlos Ramirez was able to reach up and catch it and tagged Shoemaker out.
Sunnyside went ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth, but Desert Ridge tied it on an RBI single by Robert Smith. The Blue Devils won it in the eighth as Hernandez doubled to start the inning and later scored on a single by Cruz.
Freshman Jake Barrett, who pitched four innings of relief and added an RBI single at the plate, took the loss for Desert Ridge. Sunnyside’s Carlos Ramirez went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two walks and Tomas Lopez went 2-for-2 with a run and two walks.
The loss ended the Jaguars’ season at 15-15. This year also marked the first time the team had reached the state playoffs.
Sunnyside will face Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor on Saturday.