Cat Fight: Sabercats topped in Extras by Defending Champ Cougars

5 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

To be the best you must beat the best.

Such was the scenario facing No. 4-seed San Tan Foothills in Monday night’s 2A Baseball State Championship game at Tempe Diablo Stadium against No. 7 Phoenix Christian, the defending 2A champions.

Mario Segura (12) slides safely at third base during Monday’s 2A State Championship game. (Kelli Luberda).

A game that saw the Sabercats come from behind three times to tie, including once in the seventh inning to force extra innings, ended in the tenth, when the Cougars scored a pair of runs and the Cats couldn’t answer a fourth time.

The result was a 6 – 4 Cougars victory and their second-straight state championship.

Phoenix Christian scored single runs in the second, third, sixth and seventh innings, which were extended by Sabercats’ errors. In the tenth, the Cougars hit back-to-back extra-base hits to take a 5 – 4 lead before another extra-base hit added an insurance run.

“Yeah, that and the four errors,” answered San Tan Foothills head coach Ryan Sutterby when asked after the game if the Cougars clutch hitting was the difference in the game. “We persevered and played through most of them the best we could. We didn’t let the errors lead to a big inning, but each error led to a run.”

Logan Biesemeyer (3) scores the Cats first run of the game on a wild pitch. (Kelli Luberda)

Trailing 2 – 0 in the third, the Cats scored their first run without the benefit of a hit. Sophomore Logan Biesemeyer worked a two-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch then to third on a passed ball. He later scored on another wild pitch.

The Cats tied it in the fifth, again without an RBI hit. Damien Lyon, who had three hits in the game, hit a leadoff single, stole second and later scored on a wild pitch.

In the sixth, Lyon hit an RBI-single that drove in Mario Segura, who led off the inning with a single. Segura was the momentary hero in the seventh, coming through with a two-out RBI-single that plated Frankie Gulko, who doubled to leadoff the inning.

Trevyn Badger, a sophomore, made a sterling defensive play in the eighth to save run, snaring a hard-hit line drive and throwing to second base for the double play.

The Cats were retired in order in the eighth and ninth before the Cougars did their damage in the tenth.

 

 

By any measure, this season ranks as the best ever in school history, something the players will come to appreciate once the sting of defeat subsides.


The Cats are a real-life rags-to-riches success story when considering where the once bottom-feeder program rose from.

Bryant Lopez (left) and Mario Segura (right) celebrate after Segura scored the tying run in the sixth. (Kelli Luberda).

Prior to last season, the Cats totaled 24 wins in five seasons and surpassed eight wins in a season only once during the previous eight. Last year they finished 22 – 7 and captured the 2A Metro South Region Championship in Sutterby’s first year as head coach.

After a 27 – 5 finish this year, another region title, and a lineup full of underclassmen, the Cats appear setup for championship runs during the next couple of years, at least.

Nothing is guaranteed, however, as Sutterby experienced this season.

“I really thought we were going to build off (the 2016 season), but we had six new starters (Monday night) out of eight position players,” said Sutterby. “That’s 75 percent, so you never know what will happen.

“I can’t predict the future,” he continued. “We might get a bunch of new kids move in and tear it up. Our area of San Tan Valley is (partially populated) with transient students.”

Among the expected returning players are Trevyn Badgers (SS/P), Brett Sutterby (2B), Logan Biesemeyer (C), and Damien Lyon(CF), who make up a strong middle of the field, which is part of the formula for success.

“The middle is solid,” Sutterby said. “As long you (are strong up the middle) and have pitching you should be able to keep everything in check.”

They should also earn a couple more shots at being the best.