The Queen Creek High School baseball team battled for a huge win Thursday, March 30, at its home field, beating reigning state champs and No. 4-ranked Mesquite 8-6.
The Dogs played the first 14 games of the season without a loss, but struggled in their last five games, going 2-3. Head coach Mikel Moreno knew after such a successful start to the season, his players were disappointed with the last week of play.
“It was a great team win today,” said Coach Moreno. “The boys have been down on their confidence so it was good for them to battle back and get this win because that was a good team. We had a lot of big moments and we got back to the fundamentals. We played good defense and our pitchers threw strikes and set the tone.”
After the initial rankings came out on Tuesday, Queen Creek sat at No. 7 out of 43 5A teams. However, following two losses against Centennial and Arcadia, they dropped to No. 11. Beating Mesquite will surely bump them up, but Coach Moreno says he doesn’t care who they play or how high the team is ranked.
“We are more focused on ourselves and how we are playing,” said Moreno. “If we play our game, we are pretty good. Today wasn’t a very clean game, but we still have to play our game to have a chance to be successful.”
Queen Creek trailed early on in the game. With two outs in the first, Mesquite delivered back-to-back doubles to scores its first run of the game.
Then in the fourth, a ball that slid just inside the foul pole put Mesquite up by three on a two-run home run.
The Bulldog bats needed a few swingss at Wildcat pitcher Chase Webster, but by the fourth inning looked like they had figured him out. Colton Cassinelli started the inning with a double. He was followed by a single from freshman Jacob Berry to score Queen Creek’s first run.
The Dogs added four more in the inning with help from a Danny Marshall bunt and a throwing error. Kevon Jackson and Toren Craig also had hits in the inning to contribute.
In the fifth, Mesquite scored one more run to cut the Queen Creek lead to one. And then in the sixth, the Wildcats capitalized on a hit by pitch and a throwing error to take the 6-5 lead.
Queen Creek came back in the bottom of the sixth ready to do what it had done earlier. Cassinelli was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then Craig had his second hit of the night, a double, to bring in the tying run.
With two runners on, Berry came up clutch again, clearing the bases with a double of his own. Berry was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, but the Dogs had a three-up, three-down inning in the seventh to seal the win at home.
Haiden Hendricks started the game on the hill, pitching 4.2 innings and giving up four earned runs on seven hits. Craig came in for Hendricks, but was relieved by Stetson Denning, who pitched a solid two innings and earned the win after allowing one hit and no runs.
Hendricks, Marshall and Berry each had two hits in the game. Berry had three RBI, including the game-winning RBI, to lead the team.
Mesquite will have its chance at revenge March 31 as Queen Creek travels to their home field for a region rematch. The game will start at 3:45 p.m.
Editor’s note: Jamie Morris is the staff news writer for Queen Creek High School. Mesquite High School is at 500 S. McQueen Road in Gilbert, according to MaxPreps.com.