By Frank Smith
The San Manuel High School Miner Baseball team has done it again earning a spot in the Division IV State Semi-Finals for the second year in a row! The headlines would not be so eye catching for a baseball program that is used to hanging out in the top five or so of the state power rankings throughout the season, year after year – time after time but what makes a great story line for the Miners Baseball program lately is the fact they start near the bottom and end up near the top.
For example, the team that reached the State Championship game in 2009 against the eventual Champions Pusch Ridge came into the state tournament ranked #19, in 2012 the Miners were ranked #22 upsetting the higher seeds on their way to the semi-finals losing to eventual Champions St. David, and this year the Miners entered the playoffs ranked #22 and thus far have upset #15 Mogollon, #2 St. Johns, and #7 Pusch Ridge to reach the semi-finals in dramatic fashion.
San Manuel has earned the reputation of getting into the state tournament no matter what seed – they turn into a totally different team that has not showed itself during the regular season, a very dangerous team that you cannot take lightly because you as the opponent will end up shaking hands at the end of the game and preparing for next season instead of the next round.
On April 30, the Miners faced off against #15 seed Mogollon at the Goodyear Baseball Complex in Goodyear and won 18 – 1.
Mogollon scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the third inning while the San Manuel scored five runs in the top of the first inning, three runs in the fourth inning, and exploded for 10 runs in the fifth inning to end the game at the end in the bottom of the fifth as the Mustangs failed to score any more runs to avoid the 10-run mercy rule.
The Miners scored 18 runs while pounding out 18 hits and committed no errors; the Mustangs scored one run on two hits.
On the mound for the Miners was Anthony Garcia with T.J Brown catching, Garcia (4 – 1) picked up the win and the complete game allowing two hits, one for a double, one run – one earned, struck out 10 batters, and walked two.
Offensively, Bryan Valdez went 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, three runs scored, and two RBI; Demetrious Dietz went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and four RBI; Marty Rodriguez went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBI; and John Ruiz went 2 for 4 with a triple, three runs scored, and three RBI.
“We played a great game to start off the tournament. It was a complete team game played by everyone. We hit very good when people were in scoring position and moved the runners excellently on bunting situations,” Head Coach Steve Elmore said. “Anthony pitched a great game giving up one run on two hits. Our defense played well only making one error.”
On May 3, at the Goodyear Baseball Complex, the Miners took on the #2 St. Johns and shocked the Redskins 6 – 5.
The Redskins scored four runs in the second inning, and one run in the fourth inning while the Miners scored one run in the first inning, and five runs in the third inning.
St. Johns scored five runs on five hits; San Manuel scored six runs on 12 hits.
On the mound was John Ruiz with T.J Brown catching. Ruiz (3 – 1) picked up the win and the complete game allowing five hits, one for a double, five runs – three earned, struck out 10 batters, and walked eight.
Offensively, Anthony Garcia went 4 for 4 with two doubles, a triple, a run scored, and two RBI; John Ruiz went 2 for 4 with a run scored, and one RBI; Demetrious Dietz went 2 for 4 with one run scored; and Marty Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with one run scored.
“We didn’t play a perfect game, but we hit and pitched well when we needed it. John pitched a good game with 10 strikeouts, five runs on five hits, and eight walks,” Head Coach Steve Elmore said. “We did good hitting the whole game with six runs runs off 12 hits. St. John’s was a good team, but we found a way to beat them and keep our momentum going in the tournament. We will have a very difficult game against Pusch Ridge.”
At the Goodyear Baseball Complex, on May 4, San Manuel faced their region foe and nemesis in the # 7 ranked Pusch Ridge Lions. The Miners had not beaten the Lions in a varsity baseball game as far as memory can serve. San Manuel lost to the Lions during the regular season on April 16 at Pusch Ridge 13 – 3 and lost again 11 – 2 at home on April 23. But the third time was a charm as the Miners came from behind in extra innings to win 4 – 3 to advance to the next round of the 2013 playoffs … the semi – finals.
In the top of the first inning, the Miners sent three batters to the plate and went down three up- three down; in the bottom half of the inning the Lions came to the plate with the lead-off batter reaching first base on an error and moving over to second base on the stolen base. The second batter hit a single into left field, moving the runner over to third base. And then the second batter stole second base on the next pitch to move into scoring position with no outs. With the third batter at the plate – the runner from third base scored on the next pitch on a passed ball as well as the runner from second base as the Miner catcher over threw the pitcher covering home. tThe score was now 2 – 0 in favor of the Lions. The third batter drew a walk and stole second base -advancing to third base on an off throw in the attempt to get the runner out – the ball was kicked into center field allowing the runner to reach third base. San Manuel’s pitcher Anthony Garcia struck out the fourth batter. The fifth batter hit a single into center field to score the runner from third base to bring the score 3 – 0 with one out in the first inning. The sixth batter for the Lions flied out to centerfield, and Garcia struck out the seventh batter for the third out of the inning.
The Lions scored three runs, on two hits, on two errors, and left one runner on base.
In the top of second inning – the Miners were retired three up – three down. The Lions first two batters were retired after a ground ball to second base and a pop-up to third base. The next batter drew a walk with the fourth batter of the inning flying out to right field to end the inning. The Lions left one runner on base.
In the third inning, both teams went down three –up three –down.
In the fourth inning the Miners’ first two batters went down after a strikeout and a pop-up. John Ruiz came to the plate and hit a single to left field. The inning ended when the next Miner batter struck out. The Lions came up to the plate in the bottom half of the inning and went down three-up three-down.
In the fifth inning, Garcia hit a single into left field and advanced to third base on a throwing error and a passed ball. The next three batters went down in order with a fly out to right field and two strike outs to end the inning with the Miners still scoreless.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Lions’ first two batters went down. The third batter drew a walk. The fourth batter hit a ball into the left/center gap that was closed in on by a diving centerfielder Marty Rodriguez to save another run and to end the inning. The Lions left one runner on base.
The Miners took the momentum into the top half of the sixth inning with the Lions still holding a 3 – 0 lead. The first two Miner batters went down on a strikeout and a ground out to the short stop. Bryan Valdez came to the plate with two outs and hit a single into left field. Ruiz then hit a triple over the centerfielder to score Valdez and pick up the RBI. Demetrious Dietz then hit a back to back triple over the right fielder to score Ruiz from third base to pick up the RBI. The next Miner batter got out to end the inning. The Miners scored two runs on three hits and left one runner on base. The score was now 2 – 3 with the Lions in the lead.
The Lions came to the plate in the bottom half of the sixth inning with the first two batters going down on a ground out to the pitcher and a strikeout. The next batter for the Lions hit a single into left field and advanced to third base on a throw down to second that went into centerfield. The next batter drew a walk and stole second base to put two runners in scoring position with two outs. Garcia stepped up big and struck out the next Lions batter to end the inning with the score at 2 – 3 Lions.
Once again the Miners took momentum after the big strike out into the top of the seventh inning. The first batter for the Miners struck out. Marty Rodriguez hit a single into right field. Jakkob Torres laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Rodriguez over to second base. Now with two outs, Andy Monfred came to bat and got a hit that bounced over the third-baseman’s head into left field for the single to score a hustling Rodriguez from second base to tie the game up at 3 – 3. Monfred picked up the game tying RBI. The next Miner batter hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. The Miners scored one run on two hits and left one runner on base.
In the bottom half of the seventh inning, the Lions’ first batter struck out. The second batter was hit by a pitch and stole second base to move into scoring position with one out. The next Lion batter was intentionally walked to keep the double play in effect. The next batter flied out to centerfield and the next batter hit a pop-up to the second base to end the inning and the threat. The Lions left two runners on base.
In the extra innings – in the top of the eighth, the first Miner batter hit a pop up for the first out. Ruiz came to the plate and hit his second triple of the game. Demetrious Dietz then hit a single up the middle into center field to score Ruiz for the RBI and to take the lead at 4 – 3. The next two batters hit into a fielder’s choice for the second and third outs of the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Garcia caught fire and struck out the first two batters, and forced a groundout to second base to retire the side for the game and the win.
The Lions scored three runs in the bottom half of the first inning while the Miners scored two runs in the six inning, one run in the seventh inning, and one run in the eighth inning.
Pusch Ridge scored three runs off three hits and committed no errors; San Manuel scored four runs on nine hits and committed two errors.
On the mound for the Miners was Anthony Garcia with T.J Brown catching, Garcia (5 – 1) picked up the win and the complete game allowing three hits, three runs – two earned, struck out 10 batters and walked six.
Offensively, John Ruiz went 3 for 4 with two triples, two runs scored, and one RBI; Demetrious Dietz went 2 for 4 with a triple, and two RBI; Marty Rodriguez went 1 for 3 with a run scored; and Andy Monfred went 1 for 3 with one RBI.
“It was a great baseball game overall for both teams. Anthony pitched really well after the first inning when he gave up three runs with two of them earned. After that he pitched a gem of a game striking out 10 batters, and giving up three hits while walking six batters in eight innings,” Elmore said. “We did not hit the best early as their pitcher shut us down. We started to get a couple hits off him in the fourth inning and fifth innings but no runs scored.”
“I was very proud of the guys in this game,” Elmore said. “They never gave up against a team that beat them by a combined 18 runs in the regular season. We had some many close games during the season that did not go our way, but I stressed that these games would pay off eventually and it did at a really big moment in the tournament. I am very excited for the guys, but we still have work to do. We play a good Phoenix Christian team on Friday.”
The Miners will take on the #3 seed the Phoenix Christian Cougars on Friday, May 10, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 4 p.m.
With a Miners win on Friday they will advance to the Championship game on Saturday against the winner between #4 Desert Christian and #17 Pima. The game will be played at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 7 p.m.
A special note – San Manuel is the only school in Division IV to have both their Baseball and Softball programs in the 2013 State Semi – Finals…Good Luck Miners!