The top seed in the Division II baseball state tournament got off to a rocky start on Thursday.
The Sentinels did play from behind. Haggerty hadn’t been on the mound in two weeks and was admittedly rusty, the infield had a little trouble getting used to the big stadium – in this case Camelback Ranch in Glendale – as they made five errors and found themselves trailing early.
All that said, Haggerty settled down, the defense made four double plays behind him and Seton continued on its path with a 6-2 win over No. 8 Yuma Gila Ridge on Wednesday night.
“A lot of people are, ‘They’re the 1-seed but they are still kind of the underdog.’ I like being the underdog, playing from behind,” said Seton starter Matt Haggerty.
The Sentinels (23-6) move on to a Saturday night meeting with Phoenix Sunnyslope, the fifth seed, back at Camelback Ranch. The Vikings beat Tucson Sahuaro 8-5 earlier Thursday.
Two more wins puts Seton into the state championship game on May 14 on the same field.
“I got lucky, the first couple of innings were pretty shaky, I haven’t thrown on a game mound in awhile,” Haggerty said. “So it was kind of hard to find my rhythm. Once I found it, I started throwing pretty good. We kicked the ball around a little bit so add a couple of pitches, but we played great defense when we needed to.”
For Seton, it started with Gila Ridge loading the bases with its first three batters. But Haggerty allowed just one unearned run and started getting the Hawks (20-5) to fly out on high fastballs.
Then, they began hitting the ball on the ground, but the Sentinels made five errors.
“Everyone is going to make errors,” shortstop Daniel Garlid said. “The best thing, as an infielder, you can do is put it behind you and make the next play. So that’s what we are trying to do out there.”
In the third inning, leading 4-1, first baseman Todd Zamboni allowed Gila Ridge pitcher Irving Lopez’s shot to go between his legs into right field. On the next batter, Haggerty got Hayato Johnson to hit a grounder to Zamboni, who started a first-to-second-to-first double play and end the inning.
In the fourth, after a walk, Zamboni did it again.
Even on the final outs of the night, with rightfielder Matt Pawlowski in relief of Haggerty, Gila Ridge shortstop Marco Jaime hit a ground ball to Garlid, who ran over to the second-base bag and then threw out Jaime to complete the game-ending double play.
“It’s not the same, it’s just awesome playing here,” Garlid said of adjusting to playing in the major league spring training park as opposed to a high school field. “But it takes you a little to get used to it but then you are alright, it’s just another baseball field.”
Seton got the early run back in the first when Matt Hart singled in a run after Haggerty led off the inning with a double. In the second, Pawlowski singled to start the rally and Alec Eddy got a big run-scoring single.
Garlid added a two-run single to give Seton a 4-1 lead. Haggerty tripled and Garlid singled him home in the fifth, and was doubles home by Hart.
Haggerty scattered four hits over six innings but after going 2-0 on the first batter of the seventh, Maier pulled the starter. Pawlowski walked that batter and ended up with bases loaded after the Sentinels’ fifth error and a single before the final outs.
“We’re swinging the bats pretty well as a team right now,” Haggerty said. “So we just have to keep it up and get those big hits with two outs and runners in scoring position.”