Queen Creek, Mesquite to Meet for 4th Time
11 months ago Jason P. Skoda 0
Six teams remain in the 5A State Baseball Championship and Queen Creek is the highest seed remaining at No. 8 as action continues Monday.
The Bulldogs are in this position in part because they pulled off an upset in the second round by hammering No. 1 Mesquite, 11-1.
It just so happens the Wildcats rebounded to win their next game to set up another matchup for Queen Creek with the state’s top ranked squad in a win or go home situation.
“They are the most talented team in the state,” Queen Creek coach Mikel Moreno said. “After we beat them we knew we’d see them again at some point. We had nothing to lose the first time and they threw the ball around a little bit.
“We know they want a second crack at us.”
It comes Monday when the Bulldogs (21-8) and the Wildcats (27-5) play their elimination game at 6:30 p.m. at Tempe Diablo Stadium with the winner advancing to take on No. 4 Liberty on Thursday.
Queen Creek cares little about Mesquite’s ranking or the fact it beat the Wildcats a week ago.
All that matters are the next seven innings.
It comes down to making that tough pitch with the bases crammed; fouling off that nasty pitch with two strikes to stay alive; or completing a perfect relay to keep that runner at third instead of scoring.
“Who is going to win that battle with the game on the line?” Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said. “There are going to be moments in the game that decide that game. You have to win those moments.”
It isn’t always enough against Queen Creek, which is 1-2 against Mesquite this season.
“They are scrappy, and one of those teams that never goes away,” Holland said. “It’s the worst type of team to play because they won’t stop playing hard no matter what.”
Mesquite, which won the Division I state title in 2015, has been pounding 5A teams as the Wildcats hadn’t lost all year long to a conference opponent until the Bulldogs’ postseason win.
The pitching staff, led by Chase Webster (7-1, 3.65) and David Watson (7-1, 3.21), has benefitted from an offense, led by Willie Cano (.485, 21 extra-base hits, 37 runs, 34 RBIs) that is hitting .355 and outscored opponents by 108 runs.
The Bulldogs counter with what Holland called the best combo of No. two and three hitters in 5A in Colton Cassinelli (.500, 22 runs, 28 RBIs) and Jacob Berry (.286, 26 runs, 24 RBIs) along with mentioning the importance of keeping leadoff hitter Kevon Jackson (.364, 29 runs) off the bases.
Queen Creek is ready for whatever Mesquite brings with hopes of getting down the Final Four in all of 5A baseball and possibly getting to its first state final since 1991 and third overall.
“We have to keep playing our game,” Jackson said. “We know they are good, but so are we and we’ve played with them every time. It’s win or go home and we’re not ready yet.”