Division IV baseball opponents targeted the school on 7525 E. Speedway in Tucson all season long.
That’s where this season’s overwhelming favorite, Desert Christian, resides. Desert Christian didn’t shun the spotlight.
In fact, it ordered shirts with a big target printed on the back. So far, the team has performed like the favorite and is one victory away from hitting its bullseye — a state championship.
On Friday, Desert Christian flattened another opponent to set up Saturday’s D-IV state championship game against its crosstown rival, Pusch Ridge Christian. It took six innings for Desert Christian to record an 11-1 semifinal win over Scottsdale Prep at Goodyear Ballpark.
Pusch Ridge went the distance against San Manuel but prevailed 3-0 in the first semifinal game. It’s been a long time since Desert Christian lost to a D-IV team, but Pusch Ridge was the last team to pull off the feat.
And the last pitcher to defeat Desert Christian in the past two years will toe the rubber in Saturday’s final, Jacob Frithsen (11-1, .89 ERA).
“The rivalry is good,” Pusch Ridge Christian coach Mark Frithsen said. “It’s not vicious. It’s competitive on the field. Off the field we are brothers in Christ. But on the field we are ready to play.”
Mark’s other ace, Mike Doty, tossed a complete game two-hitter against San Manuel.
San Manuel’s pitcher, Anthony Garcia (three hits allowed), also pitched well enough to win, but his team couldn’t figure out the right-handed Doty. An RBI double by Doty and RBI single by Phillip Tanner in the first inning and a fifth inning San Manuel error was all Pusch Ridge needed to score its runs.
Desert Christian’s (28-2) 11 runs marked the 19th time Desert Christian has scored 10 or more runs in a game this season. Scottsdale Prep had a breakout season this year but appeared overmatched Friday.
Besides Desert Christian’s 10 hits, Scottsdale Prep’s three errors also helped its opponent run away.
Scottsdale Prep also was strong-armed by Desert Christian’s lefty, Andrew Edwards, who also reached base four times.
“We knew we were going to be everybody’s bullseye from the start of the season, and our guys relished it instead of running from it,” Desert Christian coach M. Grant Hopkins said.