2024 Baseball

Salpointe shines in all phases in mercy-rule win over Flagstaff in 4A state playoff game

From the first play of the game a highlight-reel rob of a home run over the rightfield wall by Salpointe’s Dane White to a strikeout of the last Flagstaff batter by starter Lucas Shannon, the Lancers were highly effective Monday night in the 4A state playoff game.

The No. 4 Lancers (21-6-1) won 13-1 in five innings and advanced to the third round Wednesday, when it will play No. 1 Scottsdale Saguaro (24-3) at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The time has yet to be announced.

Salpointe, which opened the playoffs with a 3-1 win over Walden Grove on Saturday, can advance to the semifinals May 8 with a win over Saguaro.

“Twenty-eight guys now who are really buying in and understanding where we’re trying to go,” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said of his team’s performance against Flagstaff. “They’re doing it as a group and that’s fun to watch.”

White’s snag of a ball hit over the right field wall on the very first pitch of the game set the tone for the Lancers.

The former Catalina Foothills player whose brother Mason starred for Salpointe before attending Arizona also caught Preble by surprise with the catch.

“I’ll be honest with you, he hit the ball and I was standing back here (to the side of the dugout) and I said, ‘1-0,'” Preble said. “And after that, I didn’t see anything because all the boys were standing right here (in front of him). Everybody jumped up — ‘he made a great catch!’ — okay, cool, that’s awesome.”

Dane White said the play was indicative of being ready “from first pitch to last pitch.”

“In the past, we’ve had stuff like that happen, where it’s a ball in the gap or a guy barely misses the ball,” he said. “And it brings down the whole inning and it brings down the whole start of the game. So, over the season, we’ve focused on every pitch and every play and being ready.”

The catch was a sigh of relief for Preble, who was fretting over how his players would be mentally ready after partaking in their prom the night before.

“If that ball goes out and stays out, it might be a different ballgame,” Preble said. “They get some juice over there … things could’ve been a lot different.”

Shannon did not allow another ball to go past the infield until Flagstaff recorded its first and only hit of the game — a single to left field by Luke Hewes — with two outs in the fourth inning.

The junior right-hander who has committed to San Diego finished with eight strikeouts and a walk in his five innings.

“When Dane gets the game started on the first pitch, the first at-bat, like that, with something like that, it gets you hyped up,” Shannon said. “It gets you ready to play. It gets you excited. You can’t really as for much more from a right fielder.”

The lineup proceeded to get six runs in the bottom of the first, capped by an RBI single by Dane White, the No. 9 batter. The rally was also highlighted by Aciel Guillen’s RBI single, Shannon’s two-run single, Colton Raetzman’s RBI double and Rowan Sparks’ RBI single.

The lead increased to 10-0 in the third inning behind a four-run rally fueled by Guillen’s RBI double and Izaiah Moraga‘s two-run double.

In the third inning, Salpointe scored three more times, twice on a Jose Simon double and the other on an RBI double by Shawn Barros.

Salpointe tallied 15 hits off five different Flagstaff hitters. The Lancers had four batters with at least two hits, led by Guillen’s 3-for-3 performance, and had five players with two RBIs.

“The next few rounds we just have to play for the purpose,” said Moraga, a junior third baseman/pitcher/ first baseman who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. “The purpose is really playing as a brotherhood. That’s what I call these boys and coaches, we’re a brotherhood.

“We’re playing for each other, not ourselves.”

Flagstaff remained in Tucson overnight before heading back home Tuesday morning. The Eagles (22-7) will host Prescott Bradshaw Mountain (17-11) in an elimination-bracket game Wednesday at 4 p.m.

4A: No. 3 Canyon del Oro 10, No. 11 ALA-Queen Creek 6

The No.3 Dorados (23-6) will also play in a third-round game Wednesday (time to be announced) at Tempe Diablo Stadium against No. 2 Goodyear Estrella Foothills (27-3).

5A: No. 3 Nogales 14, No. 6 Catalina Foothills 4 (five innings)

The Apaches (17-9) advanced in the 5A state playoffs behind the pitching and hitting of David Zazueta.

He led the team with three hits and four RBIs, including an RBI double. He also struck out six and walked one with seven hits allowed in five innings.

Ralph Felix, Jorge Amaya and Andy Baldenegro each had two hits for the Apaches. Baldenegro and Felix tallied two RBIs each.

Nogales advanced to the third round where it will face No. 2 Peoria Sunrise Mountain (27-4-1) on Thursday (time to be announced) at Diablo Stadium.

Catalina Foothills (22-8) will host an elimination-bracket game Thursday at 4 p.m. against No. 7 Gilbert Campo Verde (16-12).


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. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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