Sahuaro’s baseball team did not play its prettiest game of the season Tuesday afternoon, in the second round of the Division II state playoffs, but coach Mark Chandler sure loved how his squad looked offensively in the sixth inning.
The second-seeded Cougars scored five runs in the inning to take a commanding seven-run lead before holding on for a wild 12-8 win over No. 15 Scottsdale Saguaro, guaranteeing the Cougars at least two more games.
The Cougars (22-5) will face seventh-seeded Buckeye Verrado on Thursday at Surprise Stadium in the third round, the first of double-elimination play.
Sahuaro left-handed ace Alex Verdugo battled with constant gusting wins and a bumpy first two innings on his way to striking out nine Sabercats in 5⅓ innings on the mound to earn his fourth win of the season.
“It’s double-elimination now, and we’ve got two great pitchers next in Justin Hammergren and Vinnie Tarantola,” Verdugo said. “I’m pretty excited about it; it means we get to go on a bus ride to Phoenix.”
Verdugo also went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three runs scored, one of which came in Sahuaro’s final at-bat when it sent nine batters to the plate and took a 12-5 lead with the help of a two-run double by Hammergren, who will make the start Thursday.
“We’ve had trouble all year scoring runs,” Chandler said. “For us to come out and score 12 runs — yea, some of them were given to us — but that sixth inning we really strung together some nice hits.”
No. 4 Nogales 7, No. 20 Gilbert Campo Verde 6: At War Memorial Stadium in Nogales, the Apaches nearly squandered a seven-run lead but hung on to sneak past Gilbert Campo Verde and advance to the third round of the Division II state playoffs.
Nogales looked to be well in control for most of the game, chasing Campo Verde ace Cooper Williams in the third inning en route to a 7-0 lead. The Apaches’ early offense was led by senior first baseman Al Cruz, who went 2 for 3 with a two-run double and an RBI triple.
Campo Verde (22-7) rallied back, scoring three runs in the fourth and sixth innings and putting two men on in the seventh — but Nogales senior southpaw Anthony Martinez shut the door on the Coyotes and sent the Apaches through to the next round.
Nogales (24-5) plays No. 12 seed Yuma Gila Ridge today at 4 p.m. at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
No. 7 Buckeye Verrado 12, No. 10 Canyon del Oro 11: At Verrado, the 11 runs the Dorados scored were not enough as Verrado won in walk-off fashion. Sophomore Tristan Peterson hit two home runs, finishing with seven this season.
No. 3 Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain 15, Catalina Foothills 5: At Bradshaw Mountain, the Falcons offense could not keep pace with the Bears as they belted five doubles and four home runs. Catalina Foothills senior Luis Gonzalez hit his ninth homer.
No. 9 Flagstaff 8, No. 8 Sunnyside 5: At Flagstaff, the visiting Blue Devils snapped a four-game winning streak and finished their season 19-10.