TEMPE — Riding the strong pitching of senior right-hander Lucas Casey, it was a joyous result for the No. 5 Canyon del Oro Dorados on Monday evening after taking down No. 2 Scottsdale Saguaro 4-1 in the 4A state championship game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
The Dorados (22-10) captured the program’s 10th championship and their second consecutive title under coach Jason Hisey, a former standout pitcher for Arizona.
“It’s a legacy,” Casey said. “It’s history. It just feels great to be the first ones (at CDO) to do it back-to-back. We’re gonna be up on the school banners forever. People are going to know us forever.”
Casey stayed on the mound until midway through the bottom of the seventh inning before exiting due to his pitch count. He was replaced by Chris Humphreys for the final two outs of the game and Casey transitioned to the outfield.
“It always hurts,” Casey said. “I would have loved to have been that guy who got the last out, but I struggled a little bit in the sixth inning and went over my pitch count.”
In his four starts in the postseason, Casey was 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 2/3 innings.
Lucas Casey @BaseballCDO MVP. #azpreps365 pic.twitter.com/Ik3p5MAqCU
— Andy Morales (@AZPreps365Andy) May 16, 2023
After doing a lot of heavy lifting for the Dorados from the bump, Casey was able to get the second-to-last out in right field to help push the team closer to the win.
“That was amazing,” Casey said. “To be able to compete out here for my team, to come out for the outfield after pitching for six and an out, I felt great. I haven’t played outfield all year.”
Casey joked the run in from right field was tiring, as it’s something he hasn’t done all year and he doesn’t do a lot of running.
“It’s gassing,” Casey said. “Let me tell you, it’s a sprint. I don’t run that much.”
It was a solid night from the bump for Casey, who continued to do what he’s done all season long despite the pressure. Casey finished the night allowing four hits and one run along with seven strikeouts. The lone run alllowed came in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Sabercats were attempting to rally.
Casey wouldn’t break, though, getting out of the inning and finishing on a high note before being sent to the outfield.
A big reason for his success, he says, is because of his mental state on the mound.
“I mean, we’ve already been out here,” Casey said. “We were out here last year, so I mean the nerves, they kind of go away. Outside of that, (Hisey) was just telling me, it’s just another game and it’s nothing different from what we’ve already seen all year.”
Hisey says Casey has done a great job as a leader with the group, really stepping up to help get them to the level they’re playing at.
“This has been a special group, from where we were a couple months ago to where we are today,” Hisey said.
“Someone had to step up,” Casey said. “We lost both our pitchers (Dominic Felix and Blake Lehmbeck) last year. They were both seniors. They were guys. We were walking into this year uncertain of who it was gonna be, and someone had to step up, so I was just the first one to do it.”
Casey finished the season with an overall record of 11-1 on the season in the games he pitched in. He also had a .324 batting average and a .381 on-base percentage, 34 hits, 34 RBIs and 34 runs.
“Lucas put this team on his back for the second half of this season,” Hisey said. “He won every big game. He pitched every big game we had to play, and he won almost every big game that we put him out there on so I couldn’t say more about Lucas.”
“We’re a great team and I couldn’t have done it without the guys,” Casey said. “It would help that I did get 11 of the wins, but I can’t put it all on myself. We have a great team, great coaching staff and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
For Lucas, the championship win helped to send him and his other five senior teammates out on a high note, closing their career at the pinnacle of their achievements.
Lucas is headed to Cal State Northridge to continue his baseball career and academics.