Sahuarita's baseball team is on the outside looking in on the Division II state tournament picture.
But Wednesday's 17-0 win over Empire in four innings got the 29th-ranked Mustangs a bit closer to being in it.
Behind a patient approach at the plate and senior pitcher Chris Kucko on the mound, Sahuarita made quick work of the Ravens.
The Mustangs collected 13 hits, drew eight walks and were aided by five Empire errors.
Kucko threw all four innings, striking out eight and surrendering only one hit. He also added an RBI single.
In the second inning, Sahuarita (15-11) used five hits and two walks to score the first six runs of the game.
One inning later, the Mustangs batted around the order to add another eight runs on just two hits. Sahuarita tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning on five hits.
Sahuarita senior center fielder Pancho Mariscal finished 3 for 3 with two singles, a solo home run over the left field fence, a walk, two runs scored and three RBIs.
"We we're just really patient at the plate and from there we got comfortable and started swinging the bat," Mariscal said.
Mustangs coach Sam Gelardi was pleased to see his team bounce back after a loss the previous night against Nogales.
It was also the team's third game in as many days.
"It was good to see coming out of a real heart-breaker last night in Nogales," Gelardi said. "To see the guys come out today and put it all together offensively, it shows a lot of character."
Gelardi likes the team's chances of making the playoffs. The Mustangs have three games left, two on the road before they host Marana on Tuesday in the regular-season finale.
"We're going to need some help, but if we win out, we can get in," Gelardi said. "If we just take it one game at a time we can keep our dream alive and hopefully we'll finish in the top 24."
Empire (15-6) is ranked 15th in Division III and appears to be a lock for the state tournament with five games left.
Empire coach Tom Belter thought his team was out of character and played with no focus.
"When one thing goes wrong it's just like a train wreck, you just can't stop it," Belter said. "We let our emotions get the best of us."
It was only the second loss in the last six games for the Ravens. Belter hopes his team can regroup starting today when it hosts St. David.
"We have another game to try to improve and win and take that momentum into the last week of the season," Belter said.