The progression of Pinnacle during the regular season helped it nab the top overall seed for the Division I state baseball tournament, but it didn’t surface at a crucial time.
Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor was the better team from start to finish on Tuesday and came away with a 5-3 loser’s bracket victory to stay alive in the postseason.
Jade Bilbrey threw a complete game on the mound and the Eagles picked up a pair of unearned runs late for the win. O’Connor moves on to face either Hamilton or Mesquite on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Glendale Camelback Ranch.
“They out-pitched us, they out-hit us and they out-fielded us,” Pinnacle coach John Casey said. “They deserved to win.”
O’Connor jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Pioneers battled back. They scored a pair of unearned runs in the third inning and tied the game on a Parker Manahan double in the bottom of the fifth.
However, the Eagles answered, getting a run on an error with two outs in the sixth inning. O’Connor added an insurance run on a passed ball with two outs in the seventh.
“They had the momentum and we took it, but we gave it right back.” Casey said. “If we can hold it there and go into the (bottom of the sixth) tied, it’s a different game as far as emotion.”
Pinnacle cleanup hitter Gerard Hernandez nearly tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, but his 400-foot shot was caught right in front of the center field wall.
The Pioneers’ season ends a couple games short of the state championship game, but it still may have been a better run than predicted after a rough start. Pinnacle began the season 8-11-1, but played very well later in the year and went 14-4 in power point games to grab the No. 1 overall seed.
The Pioneers finished 2-2 in the postseason.
“They progressed greatly from where we were in the beginning of the season,” Casey said. “They’ve got an idea of how to win and play hard, it just wasn’t enough.”
Manahan went 1-for-2 with the double and two RBIs. Bryce Colceri was 3-for-3 with two runs scored. O'Connor's Cooper Gray was 3-for-3 with a double, a triple and two RBIs and scored the go-ahead run.