1A Baseball State Championship: Panthers are Superior

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

2017 1A Baseball State Champions – The Superior Panthers!

  The top-seed Superior baseball team overcame six errors and took advantage of 13 others made by No. 3 Valley Union to win the 2017 1A Baseball State Championship on Saturday night at Surprise Stadium, 12 – 8.

  Who says defense wins championships?

  “In this game that’s a lie,” answered Superior head coach Manuel Ortega after the game. “Fortunately, we did settle down and we had to make some plays so that helped.”

  “By far the worst game of the year for us on defense,” he continued. “But the boys just fought and fought, and that’s what they should’ve done.”

Superior’s Edgar Galindo applies the tag to a Valley Union baserunner during the third inning of Saturday’s 1A Championship game.

  Valley Union held a 3 – 0 lead heading into to the bottom of the second inning before Superior started a two-out rally, scoring three runs in the inning, which was highlighted by a two-RBI single by sophomore Jesus Castellanos.

  The Panthers’ defense failed left-handed starting pitcher Steven Ybarra in the third, when it committed three errors, allowing the Blue Devils to reclaim the lead with a five-run inning.

Trailing 8 – 3 entering the bottom of the fourth, Superior head coach Manuel Ortega said he reminded his team, “There’s a lot of game left. Don’t get down, relax, have fun, and play Panther baseball.”

  The Panthers responded with disciplined plate appearances, putting the ball in play and forcing the Blue Devils’ defense to make plays that it didn’t. Valley Union committed six errors in the inning, which contributed to the Panthers’ scoring six runs to capture a 9 – 8 lead.

  Junior Marcos Bueno hit a lead-off triple and scored on an RBI-single by Ybarra. Senior Austin Navarrette hit a double – one of four hits in the inning for the Panthers – that scored another run. The Panthers sent 12 players to plate sans a strikeout.

  “We don’t make the defense work if we strikeout,” Ortega said. “We want to put the ball in play because then they have to make the play to get us out. We’ve had that approach all year.”

  “That gave us a chance,” added senior Stevie Denogean. “We had to force them to make plays. If they can make them, hats off to them, but if they don’t then let’s keep going.”

Superior right-hander Stevie Denogean shut down Valley Union’s offense on Saturday night.

  Denogean, who reached base three times in four at-bats, also starred on the mound in relief, giving his team the opportunity to erase the five-run deficit. The right-hander pitched four scoreless innings in relief, including the final inning, where he recorded the last out of the game on a called third strike.

  “My job was to just go out there, throw strikes and have my defense help me,” Denogean said. “If I could mow them down, then I mow them down.”

  Ortega was more than satisfied with Denogean’s performance as well as that of his sophomore starter.

  “He came in and threw great,” Ortega said about his reliever. “He hit his spots very well and he did his job.”

  “Steven Ybarra did his job (too), we just had five errors,” he continued. “He threw very well but had 70-plus pitches through three innings. The poor kid worked hard.”

  Superior added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth, one on an error and the other on an RBI-single by first baseman Kale Major. It added another run in the sixth on a passed ball to account for the 12 – 8 final score.

  It was no secret entering the championship game that it represented the last chance for the seniors on the team to win a state title before graduating later this month. One of the most talented and decorated classes in Superior’s history, along with their teammates, answered with the pressure on.

  “This is what every high school kid chases,” said senior Nicolaus Cruz, arguably one of the best and most decorated athletes ever to walk the campus at Superior High School. “We’ve chased it hard for four years and fell short twice in football. We knew we couldn’t go out (without a championship) because this class has tons of talent. We finally hit our potential and we’re bringing the state title back to Superior.”

  “To see them happy and finally get (a state championship) is why I’m coaching,” Ortega said. “To not have to see any tears after a playoff loss was the best feeling I’ve had.”

  Even in victory there were tears, albeit a different sort.

  On Saturday night, there were tears of joy.

Andy Luberda (940 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Additional Stories

    Superior Fire Department adds new ambulance to EMS fleet

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      Emergency responders at the Superior Fire Department commissioned a new ambulance last week. This is the newest emergency services […]


    Tonto Forest approves LOST Trail reroute

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      The Legends of Superior Trails Inc. (LOST) organization received news on Monday, Sept. 18, that the re-route of the […]


    Miner swimmers have mixed results at meets last week

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Miner swimmers swam against Desert Christian High School at the Hacienda Pool in Tucson.  The […]


    Mountain Vista School fielding a cross country team, hosting meets

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      The Mountain Vista Jr. High Cougars Cross Country Team has been busy getting in shape and competing in some […]


  • Additional Stories

    Honor Flight Volunteer: Oracle man participates in honoring WWII Veteran

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      An Oracle resident, Hector Lovemore recently volunteered to escort a World War II veteran to Washington D.C. as part […]


    Velasquez breaks rushing record in Miners’ 60 – 22 Victory

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      San Manuel senior running back Christian Velasquez set a new school record with 348 rushing yards in the Miners’ […]


    Oracle property owners, church honored with Oracle Firewise Awards

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      On Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, the Oracle Firewise Board presented Property of the Year awards to residents of Oracle. […]


    Homecoming win: Hayden defeats Valley Lutheran; looks ahead to Superior

    September 23rd, 2017
    by

      The eighth-ranked Hayden football team improved to 3 – 1 on the season following a 42 – 28 victory […]


  • Copperarea

  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • Southeast Valley Ledger