TEMPE — The No. 5 Canyon del Oro Dorados pulled off a hefty 8-4 upset over top-ranked Salpointe Catholic on Wednesday night at Diablo Stadium in Tempe to advance to the semifinals of the 4A baseball playoffs. Meeting for the third time this season, the Dorados were able to walk away with their second win over the Lancers while maintaining their trajectory toward another title.
“Well, anytime we play Salpointe, it’s a big game,” CDO coach Jason Hisey said. “Whether it’s during the season or during the playoffs. This is the third year in a row we’ve played them in the playoffs.”
Hisey continued to say his team is peaking at the perfect time, playing its best baseball, and it’s exactly what they need to happen to make it back to the championship game.
CDO (19-10) will play Wednesday at Diablo Stadium in the semifinals against either Salpointe (23-9) or No. 8 Bradshaw Mountain (24-5).
No. 3 Sahuarita (24-5) beat No. 2 Scottsdale Saguaro 11-1 in six innings in the other quarterfinal game at Diablo Stadium on Wednesday. The Mustangs advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against either Saguaro or No. 7 Flagstaff.
Most of the action for the Lancers came early in the game, as they got off to a hot start. After going three up, three down to start the top of the first inning, the Lancers wasted little time getting their bats going. A two-run RBI single from sophomore Izaiah Moraga put the Lancers on the board first as they looked to set the tone of the game.
“Lucas Casey has been so good for us; he had probably his worst inning of the entire year,” Hisey said. “He’s turning on short days, he only had three days. … So we thought he might not be 100-percent but we thought our best shot was to throw him out there this game and not rest him for Saturday.”
It wouldn’t be long, though, until the Dorados were able to break things open in the game.
In the top of the third inning, the Lancers quickly started feeling the pressure. After Chris Humphreys made it to first base to start out the inning, Jacob Charlson hit a single to center field, putting a runner in scoring position. Feeling the momentum, Casey stepped up to the plate, where he had an RBI single to cut Salpointe’s lead to 2-1 with no outs and two runners still on base.
“Charlson has been playing really well for us,” Hisey said. “I think that needs to be recognized.”
Michael Jones followed Casey in the lineup and was able to hit the ball to center field, where an error allowed the Dorados to tie things up at 2 with no outs.
Salpointe gathered at the mound to try to regroup, but it made little difference to the Dorados. Ernie Alvarez was able to slap down a two-run double, pushing the lead to 4-2 before Salpointe was able to close out the top of the third inning.
“Ernie’s been great,” Hisey said. “He got off to a little bit of a slow start because he was a wrestler, so he ended up wrestling into the first couple weeks of the season so he didn’t really get going until about halfway through the year, but he’s really swinging it right now.”
The excitement continued for the Dorados in the top of the fifth inning with Casey at the plate first. He hammered the ball over the fence for a solo home run to push the lead to 5-2 and really make a statement in the game.
CDO was locked in at this point, and their defense allowed for a quick inning with two ground outs and a strikeout.
As the Dorados went back up to bat, the momentum was gradually building behind them once again. After walking back-to-back batters to load the bases with two outs, Casey had a two-run double to extend the lead to 7-2 as opportunities were starting to dwindle for the Lancers.
CDO was able to tack on two more runs by the middle of the seventh inning, putting the Lancers in a tight spot. After a walk to start the inning, Casey was pulled from the mound and replaced by Adrien Marquez to close out the game.
“[Casey] wouldn’t have come out if he didn’t have a pitch count,” Hisey said.
Marquez had two more walks, loading the bases, and the Lancers were looking to capitalize. Gunner Geile, an Arizona commit, came up to the plate and was able to get an RBI despite grounding out, cutting things to 8-3 with only one out left to go. The Lancers looked to rally by stealing home on a wild pitch, but a ground out ultimately brought a close to the game with the Dorados taking it 8-4.
“I think Salpointe was a little thin in the pitching,” Hisey said. “We were able to turn our guy because he had a low pitch count on Saturday and I think that was the difference. We were throwing our number one and they were throwing somebody other than their number one and I think that was the biggest takeaway.”
The grudge match between the Dorados and the Lancers may not be completely over for the season. Salpointe will now host No. 8 Bradshaw Mountain in an elimination game Saturday at 4 p.m. to determine who will face CDO on Wednesday at Diablo Stadium. Until then, the Dorados will have to wait patiently for their next opponent.
Salpointe or Bradshaw Mountain will have to beat CDO twice to reach the state championship instead of the Dorados, who are 3-0 in the playoffs.
“We know we’re going to play (Salpointe) somewhere down the road if we’re going to accomplish anything and the likelihood is we’re going to play them again,” Hisey said.