One win in three tries in a week normally wouldn't be something to get excited about, but for Mesquite, in the 5A Fiesta Region baseball race, it was huge.
Mesquite got solid pitching, defense and key hitting from A.J. Ford and Chad Miller on Friday afternoon as the Wildcats edged host Gilbert, 5-3.
Mesquite’s Alex Magana (6-3) allowed six hits in tossing the complete game. The senior right-hander pitched out of jams with strikeouts to end the fourth (two runners on) and in the sixth (one on).
Right fielder Kyle Kiger robbed Gilbert's Austin Johansen of extra bases and an RBI in the third, and center fielder Ford took at least extra bases if not a home run away from the Tigers’ Mark Cisterna two outs later.
‘‘The baseball gods were on our side today,’’ Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said. ‘‘This is the time everything has to be clicking for us if we're going to get in the playoffs. Winning today gives us the tie-breaker with them so it's a big one to win.’’
Mesquite (17-12, 6-7) is in fourth place while Gilbert (17-12, 5-8) is now in fifth. The Tigers need to win both their remaining games next week and Mesquite must lose its final two for the Tigers to reach postseason.
‘‘We hit the ball hard all day,’’ Gilbert coach Ruben Carrizoza said. ‘‘They made some great catches in the outfield and at shortstop a couple times. We couldn’t get one to fall when we needed it.’’
Mesquite never trailed, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Ford's two-out, two-run single to left. The lead increased to 3-0 in the third when Chad Miller launched his 14th home run of the season deep over the left-center field fence.
Ford singled and scored on a Magana single in the fourth. Ford also accounted for Mesquite’s final run leading off the sixth with a double and scoring on Kevin Holste's single.
Designated hitter Steve Smith doubled and singled to lead Gilbert. He drove in one run and scored the other two. Brady Conrad went the distance for Gilbert and suffered the loss.