Sahuaro's Vinnie Tarantola walked in front of his team's dugout minutes after he hurled a complete game in the first round of the Division II state tournament and got an unexpected shower from his teammates when they doused him with water.
That's about the only thing that can cool off Tarantola and the Cougars these days.
The sophomore left-hander led No. 21 Sahuaro to a 9-3 upset win at 12th-seeded Ironwood Ridge on Saturday afternoon to advance to the second round.
The Cougars have now won 13 of their last 14 games after dropping their first five nontournament games of the season.
"We've become a family," said Tarantola, who gave up three runs, nine hits and one walk over seven innings. "Those first five games were tough, but they were a learning lesson. We've all come together and we're playing our best baseball."
That was evident Saturday.
Sahuaro (20-8) got on the board in the second inning when first baseman Justin Hammergren belted a two-run home run over the right-center field wall. Nick Apodaca made it 3-0 one hitter later when he went back-to-back with Hammergren with a homer to left-center.
"I definitely think that gave them a lot of life and momentum," said Ironwood Ridge coach Dennis Toia, who saw his team finish the year 22-6. "That fueled them and they kept coming."
The Cougars tacked on three more runs in both the third and fourth innings.
Apodaca and Hammergren were the catalysts all game. Apodaca, a senior left fielder, drew a bases loaded walk in the third and then had a two-run single in the fourth. He finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs and a run scored.
Hammergren, a sophomore first baseman, was 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
"Since our five-game skid at the beginning of the year, we have just hit everybody," Sahuaro coach Mark Chandler said. "We've been tearing the ball up.
"I knew we were going to score some runs, I just wanted to get five innings from Vinnie and he gave us a lot more than that."
Sahuaro will now travel to No. 5 Peoria Liberty on Tuesday for a 4 p.m., game.
• Salpointe Catholic 11, Sahuarita 1: The Lancers moved to 22-7 on the season and recovered from a loss in their final regular-season game with a run-rule win over the Mustangs.
• Canyon del Oro 12, Flagstaff 4: The Dorados got four doubles from four different players and pitcher Josh Brown earned the win, improving to 7-1 on the season.
• Cienega 6, Surprise Valley Vista 5: Indalecio Romo hit a two-run home run and pitched a complete game to lead the Bobcats into the second round.
• Tempe Corona del Sol 7, Tucson 6: Corona del Sol scored two runs in the top of the seventh to upset No. 9 Tucson and give Alex Robles his first loss of the season.
• Goodyear Millennium 5, Sunnyside 4: The 23rd-seeded Blue Devils nearly pulled off the upset, but instead finished the season 17-10 and had a four-game winning streak broken.