Already in a four-run hole against Salpointe Catholic and sitting outside baseball's playoff picture, Sabino's season was in jeopardy Thursday afternoon.
At least until a three-run homer by right fielder Matt Bushman tied the game in the top the third inning, and the Sabercats continued to ride the momentum to win 7-6 at Salpointe in a crucial Division II matchup.
No. 28 Sabino (12-7-2) still sits on the wrong side of the standings, but the victory keeps the Sabercats' postseason hopes alive while putting the playoff hopes of No. 22 Salpointe (13-9) at risk.
"They're all important games at this point," Sabino coach Rod Allen said. "No strategies other than we have to go out and be ready."
The Sabercats' already small margin of error shrunk even more when the Lancers scored four runs off of ace pitcher Ty Pennington (5-1) in the first inning after two errors by the infield.
But, Bushman and Sabino battled back with a four-run inning.
"We were just on a roll, and it was a perfect pitch (to hit)," Bushman said about his home run. "Luckily it went out of the park, and we got momentum back, and it was a good game from there on."
Salpointe retook the lead on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Diego Moreno, but the Sabercats kept chipping away at starter Jio Orozco (3-4), who threw a complete game but picked up the loss.
Bushman scored the go-ahead run on a single by shortstop Trevor Martin in the fifth inning, and relief pitcher Luke Santareire closed out the game.
The Lancers have five games left and were hanging on to one of the final playoff spots before the game. After their second straight loss, the pressure is on.
"We have to play the game for seven innings, and we didn't do that," Salpointe coach Danny Preble said.
• Tanque Verde 8, St. David 7: At Tanque Verde, the Hawks rallied their way to a huge walk-off win by scoring five runs in the final frame to knock off the defending Division IV state champions.
Tanque Verde entered the bottom of the sixth down 7-3 but pulled within a tie on a two-run single by Jonah Coldiron. One batter later, Eric O'Brien singled to right, and James Santasierre scored from second to win the game.
"It's a big power-ranking win for us," coach Jim Lawwill said. "Not only did we beat a good team but we rallied up and beat a good team. You would think this would give the kids a ton of momentum with six power-ranking games left."
• Sabino 6, Salpointe Catholic 3: At Salpointe, the Sabercats escaped a bases-loaded jam giving up only one run in the first inning and scored four runs in the fifth inning on their way to their fourth straight win.
Junior pitcher Ashlee Skillings struck out six for the complete-game win that gave Sabino its second victory over Salpointe in less than two weeks.
"She did a great job keeping us in there," Sabino coach Jeff Fowler said. "She had good control, despite the first inning, and kept them off balance."
Sabino (14-12) was ranked 18th heading into the game, and the Lancers (13-7) were at No. 22.
The Sabercats entered the fifth down 2-1 but took the lead on a two-run single by Ashlen Vega. Then, Shelby Diffenderfer hit a two-run double with two outs to extend Sabino's lead to 5-2.
"We've been playing well since spring break," Fowler said. "The middle of the lineup really came through today."
• Cienega 8, Sunnyside 6: At Cienega, the Bobcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and never looked back to remain undefeated in regular-season games.
Senior Sarah Andrews improved to 12-1 with the complete-game win, and sophomore Bailey Pavelich had a triple, double and four RBIs.
"I feel like we're in a good position," coach Eric Tatham said. "We're playing loose, and we believe we can win."