The Mesquite baseball team was the king of the comeback last season, rallying multiple times in the last inning for victories.
It looks like that's carrying over to 2011.
The No. 4 Wildcats blew a three-run lead but battled back from a 4-3 deficit with five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to defeat No. 3 Gilbert 8-4 and win the Scottsdale Quarterback Club Invitational at Gilbert High on Saturday.
Nick Rosales tied the game with a one-out, RBI double in the sixth and Jake Howard put Mesquite ahead by knocking in Rosales with a double two batters later.
The Wildcats added three runs in the seventh, including a two-run homer by Lane Doty.
“I don’t have any doubt on this team that we can come back and win,” Doty said. “We’re down, but we’re never out.”
Mesquite beat Desert Mountain, Desert Ridge and Horizon in pool play to advance to the title game. Its only loss in the tournament came to Saguaro. Gilbert beat Mountain Pointe, Boulder Creek and Highland and lost to Chaparral on its side of the bracket.
The Tigers rested multiple regulars after playing Friday night, including Arizona State-bound catcher Nathaniel Causey.
Despite those absences, Gilbert erased a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning. Drew Stankiewicz and Greg Esquibel hit back-to-back solo home runs with one out, and Austin Masterson and Alec Merriman followed with RBI singles for the 4-3 lead.
It was short-lived, though, as Mesquite took it back a half-inning later.
“It’s not like we came prepared to lose today,” Gilbert coach Matt Gutierrez said. “We came to win a ballgame. The kids on the bench are just as capable as the starters, and they know that. They didn’t quit, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Gutierrez wasn’t happy with his team’s defense. The Tigers allowed five unearned runs in the contest and committed three errors.
“We’re having trouble throwing and catching on the routine stuff,” he said. ‘We make great plays but we just don’t play catch with each other. Obviously that will not get us to where we want to go.”
Mesquite starter Riley Smith blanked Gilbert over the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. He threw 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits while striking out seven.
Mesquite coach Jeff Holland was pleased with the outing.
“He’s grown a lot over this past year,” Holland said. “He didn’t do so hot last year, but this is a big year for him. Senior year and he wants to go out on top.”
Relievers John Ferendelli and Nick Rosales didn’t allow a run the rest of the way. The Wildcats are still settling on the pitchers that will be used in important situations.
“We’re just trying to find a set of pitchers that can go out there and not be afraid to compete,” Holland said.
Doty led Mesquite offensively, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Rosales was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Casey Howard had a pinch-hit, two-run home run that staked Mesquite to a 3-0 lead.
Stankiewicz was 1-for-3 with the solo home run, a walk and a stolen base for the Tigers.