PHOENIX - Facing a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth inning, Catalina starting pitcher Robby Pearson was told to start throwing from the top of the ball by his coach.
Pearson did just that and struck out the last six batters he faced after loading the bases, propelling Catalina to its first trip to a state championship game since 1977 with a 3-1 win over No. 2 Phoenix Greenway in a state 4A-II semifinal at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
"This is the greatest game of my life," said Pearson, who finished with 13 strikeouts and four walks, while giving up three hits. "I tried not to overthrow and stay within myself and kept praying to myself 'do what you can do' and it all worked out."
Greenway loaded the bases with the score tied at one and no outs when Ethan Percell singled after two walks.
Pearson got the next three batters swinging.
"I was so caught up in the moment to stay within myself," Pearson said. "I wanted to make them earn it and just make sure they swung the bat."
With the emotional boost from the inning before, Pearson helped his team set up an opportunity to get the win in the top of the seventh inning.
He led off the inning with an infield single and moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt.
T.J. Morales then singled into left field before Alex Meza provided the hit that put Catalina ahead for good, 2-1.
Meza took the third pitch from Greenway starter Jordan Tucker into right center field to score Pearson with a stand-up double.
"I knew I was going to get a hit," Meza said. "Coach (Tony) Gabusi told me that if I see something, just swing as hard as I could. (Tucker) hung me a curveball and it was down the middle, so I drove it back up the middle."
The No. 6-seeded Trojans will play Phoenix Thunderbird for the title today at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 3 p.m.