The Mountain Pointe-Hamilton baseball rivalry has become one of the premier series in Arizona.
The two squads played the first of what is expected to be many on Tuesday as host Hamilton held on to beat Mountain Pointe 5-3.
The Huskies (8-1) built a 4-0 lead in the third inning when Arizona State recruit Mitch Nay hit an opposite-field three-run shot to right-field off Pride starter Kyle Detwiler (2-2).
It was the kind of home run that isn’t supposed to happen anymore, but ….
“He’s a freak,” Pride coach Brandon Buck said.
Nay is 6-foot-3, 195-pounds and stayed on a low and outside pitch and took Detwiler deep.
“It was a ball low and away and he was out on his front side and gets it out,” Buck said. “He’s a freak. It was a great pitch by Detwiler, but Mitch did a great job of putting it in play.”
Clearly Buck didn’t have a problem with the way Detwiler, who went four innings before being relieved by Joey Curletta, pitched.
What bothered Buck were the opportunities Mountain Pointe let go against Hamilton pitchers Patrick Murphy (3-0, 4 2/3 innings) and Parker Gallegos.
In the third inning, the Pride had runners on first and second with Scott Kingery and Curletta coming up. He thought of bunting with Kingery to advance the runners but figured it would have led to Curletta being walked intentionally.
Instead Buck showed faith in his No. 3 and 4 hitters, but Murphy did his job and ended the threat.
“I’ll take that shot every time,” Buck said. “Murphy made the pitches had to get out of it.”
They finally got to Murphy in the third on a RBI single by Curletta and two-run double by senior Max Harden to close within 4-3, but Mountain Pointe (5-3-1) came away feeling like it could have been more.
After Murphy threw a ball to his last batter, Gallegos came in with the bases loaded and a 1-0 count and induced a chopper off the plate to end the rally.
“Parker did a great job and came right at them,” Hamilton coach Mike Wood said. “That’s kind of his temperament. We’ve been using him more in relief because he is more versatile and I think he thrives in those situations.”
The Pride never really threatened in the final two innings as the Huskies won their eighth straight game.
“It’s always nice to beat these guys,” he said. “We respect them and they respect us. Our guys were up for it and I am sure they were, too. It was the best win of the year so far.”
Detwiler said despite the loss Mountain Pointe, which had won four straight, is playing well.
“We have put together a pretty good string, especially offensively until this game,” the right-hander said. “We will be OK. We always want to beat Hamilton. It didn’t happen, but we always play each other hard.”
The two teams have met in the big-school state finals the last two seasons with the two teams splitting the titles.
Both squads are entered in the Horizon tournament next week so another meeting while happen on March 21 and beyond that who knows.
“It’s wide open,” Wood said of the state outlook. “I look out there and there at least a half-dozen teams that can do it. The last six years it seemed like there were teams that were perceived to be more talented than everyone else. This year the top tier is pretty solid and deep.”