aia365.com checked in with some of the baseball programs that are highly ranked and in the midst of playing out their sectional games.
Below are the notes on the teams that responded to e-mails sent out to their coaches. We'll post more notes this week and next week on baseball as well as softball teams that are chasing state tournament berths.
We are a couple of weeks away from this, but the baseball state brackets come out May 1.
Boulder Creek: Senior Drew Lawrence is leading the team with a .469 average, 26 runs, and 46 hits. … Senior Vince Montana is batting .337 with 19 runs, 29 hits, and 18 RBI’s. … Sophomore Mitchell Allen is hitting .388. … The pitching leaders are Brandon Browne (4-3, 2.04 ERA, 37 2/3 innings, 42 K’s) and junior Nick Zappala (4-3, 3.29 ERA, 42 innings, 41 K’s.). … The strength of our schedule in power ranking games and in our tournaments have provided great preparation for big-time games in these last few weeks of the regular season,” coach Joe McDonald said. “Our pitching has come a long ways over the last two months as well as our offense, jumping .100 points in the past month.”
Hamilton: The team is 19-2 and batting .402. … The team’s batting average leader, Austin Filiere (.556, 13 doubles, 4 HR) will attend M.I.T. next season. … OF/1B Jacob Boston and OF Ryan Peep are each batting over .400 and have a combine 11 home runs and 53 RBI’s. … The team’s ERA is 2.40, led by Kent Hasler (5-0, .90 ERA) and Zach Pederson (7-0), 2.62 ERA).
Desert Ridge: Team doesn’t keep stats, but the most consistent part of the team is its team defense, coach Bryan Rice said. … The team is “strong” up the middle with senior SS Cam Richins, sophomore 2B Ian Raidy, senior CF Ryan Foster, and sophomore catcher Isaiah Garcia. … Caleb Rodriguez is the most consistent pitcher on the team, and senior Robbie Morris is closing games out. … “We have a bunch of good kids who work hard and are a pleasure to coach,” Rice said.
Horizon: “Simply, our pitching and defense has been outstanding,” head coach Eric Kibler said. … Trevor Horn, Chris Isbell, Mike White, and Ian Sanger have been the main guys. … The team’s ERA is under 2.00 and average less than an error a game. … “Playing in our national tournament (which Horizon won) was helpful. If we are to do well at state, we need to improve our hitting,” Kibler said.
Mesquite: Senior catcher Tyler Pollett is the team’s batting average (.439) leader and is second on the team with 14 RBI’s. … “We haven’t really been playing well but good enough to get some wins,” coach Jeff Holland said. “I thought going into the season pitching and defense would be our strength, but we have to get better in those two areas. We aren’t going to boat race a team, so we have to focus on the little things and get some big two out hits.” … Seniors Matt Heibult, George Valenzuela, James Harrington, and Nick Gurevitz are seniors with varsity experience who have “thrown well” this season. … Cole Valletta (17 RBI), Josh Webster (.394 ave.) and Nick Daley (21 hits) are the top juniors on the team.
Mountain Pointe: The team has 15 seniors and unbelievable leadership, coach Brandon Buck said. “This is a very special group and one that loves each other and fights for one another,” Buck added. “Every day they come with a very positive attitude and tremendous effort. That is a good equation for success.” … Mountain Pointe’s baseball players are also known for their community service and this year is no different, having accumulated 30 hours during service projects.
Skyline: The team won three games last year but is 11-8 this year. … “I have kids who are working really hard to get better and take it one day at a time,” coach Pat Herrera said. “I also have a coaching staff that has worked endlessly to change the culture of Skyline baseball.” … Skyline is led by freshman Boy VanderKooi, who leads the team with a .377 ave. … Michael Amado (4-2, 2.33 ERA) is the team’s work horse on the mound and already beat Brophy. … Freshman Marcus Christy and VanderKooi are learning on the fly how to pitch to varsity hitters.
Apollo: Seniors Ivan Torres and Kyle Kleissle are a combine 9-1 on the mound, and Kleissle leads the team in RBI’s with 16 RBI’s. … “Our main and most important key is our team chemistry,” coach Jerod Aker said. “I have had more talented teams in the past, however, I have not had a team work this hard in the off season and get along as well as they do.” … Aker’s son, Brett, a sophomore, is the starting third baseman and batting .395. … Assistant coach Ernesto Ortiz’s brother, Channy, a freshman, is starting at second base and is batting .347 and has only one error after 54 chances.
Canyon del Oro: “We are playing good baseball, and we have a lot of guys contributing to our success,” coach Stephen Ambuehl said. “On the mound, the arms of junior Max Smith and junior Gabe Benavides have been very consistent and have accounted for seven wins. Defensively, we have been very good in the middle infield, and our outfield has a lot speed and get great jumps.” … Junior Erick Migueles and sophomore Tristan Peterson are each hitting over .500 and have 10 combined home runs. … Junior Nick Ames and junior Nate Soriano are the other two guys who are helping CDO set the tone, Ambuehl said. … The Tucson baseball community lost a very dear friend, Desert Christian Ryan Hanson, who passed away last week. Hanson played at Sabino for his dad, Mike, who also is a coach at Desert Christian. Ryan was Ambuehl’s outfield coach when Ambuehl took over three seasons ago. “(Ryan) had a very positive relationship with a lot of baseball players in the Tucson, including all of my 17 varsity players. He was always positive and worked very hard all year round to make our players better.
“Our players are having a very hard time with it all, but they have kept their head in the game and are playing with a heavy heart. But they are also playing for something bigger than themselves.”
Nogales: Junior right fielder Alan Garcia is hitting .483 (29 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 15 RBI’s). … Senior shortstop David Oropeza is hitting .406 (28 hits, 4 doubles, 8 triples, 13 RBI’s). … Senior catcher/DH Al Cruz (.383 ave., 5 home runs, 27 RBI’s) and senior catcher Justin Felix (.375 ave., 22 hits, 8 doubles, 4 triples, 5 home runs) also stepping up. … Senior pitcher Alan Sinohui is 5-1 with a 1.00 ERA after 28 innings. … Won first 12 games before dropping Salpointe tournament final to Salpointe 3-1. … Nogales is 7-4 in games determined by two runs or fewer. … Team has six players who only pitch and hit. Five of the pitchers have each logged more than 20 innings, have a combined 2.20 ERA, 110 combined K’s, and 45 walks. Those pitchers call themselves the Po Nation (pitchers only). “Our pitching coach, Ali Lopez, has done an outstanding job with the PO’s,” coach Oscar Favela said. “Our lineup is pretty tough, especially 1-5. Those guys are all close to hitting .400 or over. We have great speed and awesome power throughout the lineup.”
Saguaro: The team is living up to its mantra: Men of Character. The team has passed out blankets to the homeless, worked with athletes with disabilities, read to children, and several team-building activities. “These experiences have given us an appreciation for what we have, and the opportunities to be who we are in the moment,” coach Joseph Muecke said. Stat leaders: Senior Brett Adams (.500 ave., 23 RBI), senior Turner Lace (.376 ave., 12 doubles, 27 runs), senior Mike Bloom (.436 ave., 16 RBI), Jack Jeffries .323 ave., 17 RBI), senior Matt Mara (.355 ave, 21 RBI), senior Ben Lagusis, 19 runs, 10 stolen bases), senior Nick Meservey (4-2, 1.63 ERA, 32 K’s, 34 1/3 innings), junior Luke Eigsti (4-0, 1.69 ERA, 40 K’s, 29 innings), junior Trent Baze (5-0, 2.72 ERA, 18 innings). … “This team has understood its roles and accepted our family-first approach,” coach Joseph Muecke said.
Sahuaro: Potential first round pick Alex Verdugo (.651 ave., 24 RBI, 1.162 slugging percentage, 11/13 stolen bases, 1.000 field percentage, 2-1 .56 ERA, 25 innings, 42 K’s) leads the team in most categories. … LHP Justin Hammergren (5-0, 1.20 ERA, 35 innings, 39 K’s, .385 ave) also is having am excellent season on the mound. … Catcher Jake Northrup, LHP/OF Vinnie Tarantola, Hammergren, and Verdugo have been four-year starters and have signed to play in college. … “The key to our success: pitching and defense, hands down,” coach Mark Chandler said.
Fountain Hills: Stat leaders — Junior RF Paul Bryniarski (.467 ave., 21 runs, 14 RBI’s), senior 1B Andrew Bryniarski (.471 ave., 23 runs, 24 RBI’s, 6 home runs), junior CF Devin Foyle (.468 ave., 18 runs, 20 RBI’s), senior LF Nick Wojtysiak (.410 ave., 10 runs, 15 RBIs, 3-0, .70 ERA, 39 K’s in 20 innings), junior P Devin Foyle (5-0, 1.45 ERA, 29 innings, 57 K’s). “We play good defense and work hard to score runs,” coach Art Griffith said. “We have played a very tough schedule as well.”
Payson: Stat leaders — senior Nick McMullen is hitting .451 with 21 runs, and 23 hits. … Sophomore Taran Sarnowski is batting .440 with 13 runs, 22 hits and 18 RBI’s. … Seniors Dailey Carnes and Miguel Mendoza each have ERA’s hovering around 2.000 and have struck out a combine 66 players. … “We have a veteran team, keyed by nine seniors who have played together for a long time and work hard on the field,” coach Brian Young said. “Our pitchers have done a nice job of keeping us in games and throwing strikes. They are very tough when we don’t walk guys.”