TEMPE - The message after Tucson High lost to top-seeded Scottsdale Desert Mountain 5-4 at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Thursday night was loud and clear.
It's not over.
The second-seeded Badgers gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to blow a 4-2 lead, snap a 13-game winning streak and drop to the losers bracket semifinals of the Division I state tournament.
"It's going to stay with us and that's the good thing," Tucson coach Oscar Romero said. "We know we're capable of being right there at the end. We're looking for that opportunity come Saturday and get back here on Tuesday."
For the third time this season, Tucson (29-5) will play No. 10 Scottsdale Chaparral on Saturday at Tempe Diablo at 6:30 p.m. in a win-or-go-home game with a spot in Tuesday's state final and rematch with Desert Mountain on the line.
"It makes me hungry," senior captain Alex Robles said about the loss. "I think it makes our whole team hungrier. We're bummed out now, but we'll get back to practice tomorrow and come back Saturday even stronger."
Robles threw all six innings for Tucson and struck out four in his first loss. The right-hander had retired eight of the last nine batters he faced entering the bottom of the sixth with the Badgers leading 4-2.
But then he gave up three straight hits to get in a bases-loaded jam with no outs. However, Robles turned a 1-2-3 double play on a grounder back to the mound to give the Badgers a second life and put them one out from getting out of the inning.
"It pumped us up," Robles said. "I thought we were going to get out of the inning after that. I felt their whole momentum just go down after that."
But the Wolves (30-5) tied the game 4-4 in the next at-bat. Desert Mountain's Lucas Jacobi hit a ball to short and Tyler Johnson's throw to first went wide allowing two runs to score.
"A lot was going through my mind," Johnson said. "I felt I needed to make the play so I fired it as hard as I could and just lost control and made a bad throw."
Jacobi scored from second one batter later on a single to center field to give the Wolves their first lead since early in the game. Tucson was unable to answer in its final at-bat.
The Badgers scored all four runs in the top of the third inning with the help of a double that was nearly a home run by Robles. Second baseman Emilio Melendez singled up the middle to start the run of four straight hits that Robles capped off with a RBI double to the left-field wall.
Romero said senior Ryan Norrix will take the mound Saturday against Chaparral. He threw a five-hitter and gave up one run against the Firebirds when the two met in the third round on May 2.
"He's a winner so we'll definitely roll with that," Romero said. "Hopefully we swing the bats and play some defense and be back here Tuesday."
Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at email@example.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13