2024 Baseball

Historic Bisbee baseball program earns sixth state championship

Bisbee went from winning only six games three seasons ago to going 23-6 and winning a 2A state championship this year (AZPreps365 photo)

Bisbee High School won the first of its now six state championships in 1947.

From generation to generation, the Pumas have earned a title — from 1947 to 1966 to 1993 to 2002 to 2008.

Add 2024 to the list for No. 3 Bisbee after Saturday night’s 7-2 win over top-seeded Phoenix Christian at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Bisbee won the game old-school style, as Jose Garcia of AZPreps365 points out in his article, bunting safely three times to generate runs.

Puma starting pitcher Jose Mendez also pitched effectively.

Bisbee coach Todd Hammett returned to the program in 2022 after a year hiatus. He coached the Pumas for 20 years from 2001 to 2020 before deciding to step away. The Pumas were 6-12 in 2021 without him.

They went 14-11-2 in 2022 and 15-12 last season. They finished 23-6 with a state championship this season.

Bisbee took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Phoenix Christian (26-3) with an RBI triple by Horacio Olivarria and suicide squeeze by Anthony Molina.

In the second inning, after two bunt singles, Bisbee’s leadoff hitter, the athletic Sebastian Lopez, forced in two runs with a single. Lopez, a junior, is also one of the most accomplished football players in the state as a dual-threat quarterback and shutdown defender at cornerback.

Bisbee, which had 13 hits against Phoenix Christian, attempted five bunts, four of them going for hits.

“The seniors that we have this year, there are only three of them that stayed when we won (six games),” Hammett told Garcia. “For those seniors to stick around and to buy in to this program, and to buy in to what I was asking them to do, like tonight play small ball and give yourself up, the seniors bought in first and brought the rest of the guys with them.”

Lopez pitched the last 2/3 innings in relief of Mendez, a senior who went a solid 6 1/3 innings while scattering eight hits.

Garcia reported that Mendez received some well-earned congratulatory hugs from teammates as the song, “You’re the Best,” was aptly played at the stadium.

“I’m crying because of all the excitement,” said Mendez, who also went 2 for 4 with an RBI. “At first, I was struggling at the start of the season. But for this state title game I had to give it my all for my last high school game.”

The standouts from Bisbee’s state title:

— CF/P Sebastian Lopez, 2 for 5, run, two RBIs, 2/3 inning, no walks, one strikeout

— 1B Horacio Olivarria, 1 for 4, triple, run, RBI

— 2B Anthony Molina, 2 for 4, run, RBI

— LF/CF Howard Wright, 1 for 4, run, RBI

— C Bryan Martinez, 3 for 4, double, run

— P Jose Mendez, 2 for 4, run, RBI, 6 1/3 innings, two runs, two walks, five strikeouts

Mendez and Molina are the only seniors out of this group. The Pumas will challenge for another state championship in 2025.

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