Both teams’ pitching and defense dominated, but the No. 9 Mingus Union High School baseball team came up on the short end of a 2-1 decision at No. 8 Thunderbird High School in a hard-fought 4A State Championship first round matchup on May 2.
The Marauders [13-5, 8-4 Grand Canyon] had a few key opportunities to score runs, but every time the Chiefs’ defense was called upon, it made the play.
A standout example was when Chiefs junior center fielder Jaden Erbstoesser made a diving catch in shallow center for the first out in the top of the seventh inning.
It became a run-saving, and momentum-killing, play after Mingus sophomore Chris Mathe had hit a leadoff double.
Or when an inning prior the Chiefs turned a double play on a double steal attempt. Mingus junior Tyree Kim struck out as junior Andrew Kulis stole second, but the return throw and tag kept sophomore Justin Tanner from scoring the visitors’ first run.
“I really didn’t think we were missing anything, it’s just they made a couple good plays when they needed to and it cost us the win,” Mingus senior Gus Henley said. “Other than that if they wouldn’t have caught those balls we would’ve won easy.”
Mingus turned two double plays of their own, including an unusual one in the second inning that Kulis completed by himself.
Thunderbird junior D’Angelo Bacchaus popped up to Kulis, who made the catch and tagged Chiefs senior Danny Kreamer on his return from second base.
The Marauders had runners in scoring position in five of seven innings, but only got one hit in those situations. It left eight runners on base.
“They didn’t let up, I mean they battled against a really good pitcher and they gave us a chance,” Mingus head coach Bob Young said. “That’s all we could ask for at the end. We had tying runs on base and were one hit away.”
Thunderbird junior pitcher Sasha Sneider got strikeouts to end two of those threats and totaled 10 for the game. Sneider sat all three Marauders batters in the first.
Mingus senior pitcher Mitchell Lindsay gave up two earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and zero walks.
“I just left everything out on the field and I just did what I needed to do and come out and played my heart out,” Lindsay said.
Sneider also opened the scoring in the second frame with a solo home run to center field, his fourth of the year.
The Chiefs’ second run came two innings later. After Kreamer was controversially called out trying to steal third, it appeared Mingus would get out of the inning unscathed with two outs on the board.
But Thunderbird junior Jonathan Buhl doubled and Bacchaus singled him home.
“Pitching and defense was great, you give up two runs that’s all you can ask for, so I thought they did great on defense,” Young said.
Mingus never gave up, coming close to scoring in the sixth inning and almost completing a seventh-inning comeback.
After the diving catch, Pacheco scored Mathe on a single. The game-tying run was on base.
Thunderbird changed pitchers and junior Skylar Waynick singled, but with two outs already recorded.
Tanner popped out, and the Marauders’ season ended in the first round of the state tournament after reaching the semifinals a season ago.
“It’s a good state tournament game, I mean just a battle,” Young said. “We’re one hit away from tying it up and it’s they way it goes. We didn’t get it, they did and they move on.”
Henley, Lindsay, Travis Nester and Henry Valenzuela are the four graduating seniors, giving the Grand Canyon Region champions a strong chance at making it three straight titles in 2018.