Pride reaches title game by tagging D-Ridge - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Pride reaches title game by tagging D-Ridge

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 9:39 pm | Updated: 3:59 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

With the perfect scenario completed on Thursday all that remains in the path to Mountain Pointe baseball's first ever state championship is one game.

One opponent. Twenty-one outs. And plenty of offensive hacks.

"This exactly the way we drew it up," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. "One and done and get ready for Saturday."

The Pride got there by vanquishing last year's nemesis Mesa Desert Ridge, the third seed, as Mountain Pointe pounded the Jaguars 14-2 in five innings in the 5A Division I semifinals at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The opponents are East Valley Region rivals and battled each other in last season's state title game with Desert Ridge coming home with both titles.

Not that the second-seeded Pride was keeping tabs or anything.

"We have some history with them," said senior outfielder Quinn Tucker, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles (both in the second inning). "Desert Ridge is a great program, but this is our time. It was awesome."

Desert Ridge's Scott Hoffman, the reigning state player of the year, never displayed his usual quality pitching repertoire on the mound as he was tagged for eight earned runs in one-plus inning. He walked six batters, had an infield fly ball fall between himself and first baseman Xavier Sotello and threw a handful of wild pitches.

"We didn't catch the ball and we played average against a great team," Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera said. "You can't do that and expect to win."

Hoffman has faced the Pride six times over the last two seasons and the Mountain Pointe lineup game in with a plan of an attack at the plate and never deterred from it.

"When you see a pitcher that many times you get an idea of what he wants to do," senior Jordan Kipper said. "We had great approaches against him and got the job done."

Junior first baseman Joey Curletta had a first-inning, two-run triple to start the damage. Then the first five batters reached to start the second before Hoffman was pulled with a 2-0 count on Curletta. Reliever Keaton Cenatiempo finished the at-bat with a walk.

The Pride (27-5) dinked and dunked the rest of the inning to plate a total of seven in the frame for a 10-0.

Their prodigious power didn't show up until the third inning after Desert Ridge plated two unearned runs off Jordan Kipper (8-1, 5 innings, 0 ER, 3 hits, 6 strikeouts) as Kevin Cron (2 for 2, 2 RBIs) and Curletta (2 for 3, 4 RBIs, 3 runs) hit back-to-back solo shots for their 27th and 21st, respectively.

The long balls were fun to watch, but Buck was more impressed with their previous at bats when both walked with the bases loaded.

"They stuck to the approach we talked about and never got too aggressive," he said. "They didn't try and put the game away with one swing. Instead they stayed within themselves to get the runs across with walks."

Desert Ridge (26-7) came in winners of nine of its last 10 games with the loss coming in the first round against No. 14 Mesa Dobson, but had to beat the Pride twice to get in the title game. It never materialized and Herrera said the long path back to the semifinals had nothing to do with it.

"You know, really that didn't matter," he said. "We were ready to play, but didn't have our best game. It's going to sting for awhile but we are going to walk away with our heads held high. We have made it to at least the semifinals the last four years and we will just continue to work hard."

The Pride, which has won 16 of their last 17 games, enters Saturday's title game against fourth-seeded Chandler Hamilton at 7 p.m. at Camelback Ranch Stadium locked and loaded with Cron, their ace, on the mound.

"Getting back to this point is what we wanted and we wanted to do it by working as hard as we can every day," Buck said. "We wanted to go into the season with no chance for regret and then once we got into the state tournament we were going to let whatever happens happen. This is the fun part.

"If you watch us play we have fun, we are joking around all of the time and it allows us to play loose." 

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