In 40 minutes Monday on Hi Corbett Field, Salpointe Catholic went from dominating Scottsdale Saguaro with an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning to falling behind against the Sabercats.
Saguaro sent 15 batters to the plate in the prolonged rally, one that included nine runs on eight hits and a Salpointe error.
“It’s tough for a teenage kid to give up nine (runs) in an inning and give up an eight-run lead … it’s like, ‘What’s going on here?'” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said. “For them to be able to come back in the bottom of that frame, put something together … that was a sign of really mature kids and I’m really proud of them.”
Cade McGee came up big on the mound in the last two innings for @LancerHardball, keeping Saguaro scoreless after the Sabercats rallied for nine runs in the fifth. McGee also 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Salpointe advances in 4A state playoffs with the 14-9 win. pic.twitter.com/X3GvlSqUXm
Salpointe (22-6) immediately responded to Saguaro’s onslaught by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Lancers added two insurance runs in the sixth to beat the Sabercats 14-9.
The second-seeded Lancers advance in the winners’ bracket and will play 4A Kino region rival Vista Grande, the No. 6 seed that is 19-8, on Wednesday night at 6:30 at Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium.
Ryan Grabosch, from the esteemed Rincon High School baseball lineage that includes late grandfather Gary Grabosch and father Jason Grabosch, drove in three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to fuel the Lancers’ push back after Saguaro’s fifth-inning onslaught.
Ryan Grabosch, who drove in three runs in the fifth and sixth innings for @LancerHardball, talks about his team's fight in a 14-9 win over Saguaro after the Lancers squandered an 8-0 lead in the fifth to trail 9-8. pic.twitter.com/hw5yD7FK7e
“We all just kept our minds strong and knew we could come back,” Ryan Grabosch, a senior catcher, said. “We are a better team than them. We’ve been doing it all season. We’ve been hitting the ball all season, so we knew we could do it.”
Sophomore right-hander Cade McGee pitched hitless ball in the sixth and seventh innings to earn the save. He struck out two of the seven batters he faced. This happened right after Saguaro was relentless in the fifth.
McGee, who played at third base before moving to the mound, went 2 for 4 with two RBIs at the plate. It was only the fourth time he pitched this season, with only five innings all season now.
“It shows a lot about a team when you can fight back like that and we’ve always been that type of team, and we’re going to always fight back like that,” said McGee, who like Grabosch has a background in USA Baseball.
Of his pitching performance, McGee said, “It’s just settling down and doing your own thing. You just have to stay calm and do your own thing. … If you tense up, you’re not going to play the way you want to.”
Tensing up can happen in the playoffs. To make matters more of a concern for Preble, Salpointe had the whole day off from school to think about the game after prom on Sunday night.
The team had a sleepover and breakfast together in the morning.
“I knew we were going to have a lull at some point,” Preble said. “The last 24 hours have been wild. They had prom last night. No school today … I hate playing on days that they don’t have school because it’s not a normal get-out-of-bed and do your thing.
“I knew that they (Saguaro) were going to show up at some point. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. It was going to happen. It’s the state tournament. Something wild is going to happen, and that’s what it was.”
In the two games against Vista Grande this season, Salpointe has won by scores of 6-0 at home on March 19 and 2-0 in Casa Grande on April 4.
Salpointe junior Jaeden Swanberg pitched a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the second meeting. In the first game, senior Ray Aguilar (Monday’s starter against Saguaro) allowed only three hits in seven innings.
Swanberg (5-3, 3.47 ERA) will likely be the starter against Vista Grande on Wednesday. He will pitch on three-day’s rest after pitching Salpointe to an 11-1 win over Phoenix Thunderbird at Hi Corbett on Saturday.
“(Beating Vista Grande twice) scares me,” Preble said. “Going 2-0 against a team in a year … it’s tough to beat a team three times. They’re a good ballclub. They have a bunch of arms that throw really well.
“We’ll have to show up. I know we’re excited for it because we know them. Does that make it any easier? No. We still have to show up. We still have to throw strikes. We’re going to play hard and see what happens.”
In another 4A state playoff game, No. 4 CDO lost to visiting No. 5 Seton Catholic 6-4. The Dorados are still alive, playing in the losers’ bracket. Their next game is Wednesday against Estrella Foothills at Hohokam at 4 p.m.
Dante Schindler, Dominic Felix and Simon Lytle each had two hits for CDO in Monday’s loss.
In the 5A state tournament, two-time defending champion Nogales continued its winning ways with a 10-1 win over Buckeye Verrado at Diablo Stadium in Tempe on Monday night.
Alex Acevedos had four RBIs for the Apaches (24-4), who next play Thursday against Desert Mountain at 6:30 p.m. at Diablo Stadium. Miguel Vega and Matt Bachelier combined for 10 strikeouts and only five hits allowed in the win over Verrado.
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.