West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Tuesday, May 15, 2012
View photo by Ray Thomas
Falls (From Page 12)
loading the bases. Matt Frank lofted a fly ball to right that was lost in the lights and fell for a hit, scoring courtesy runner Ryan Streb. Cameron McCubbins followed with a line drive single to center, plating two more. The final run of the inning scored when Erazo singled through the middle, bringing home Frank and making it 5-2. The scored stayed that way until the fifth when Estrella tallied twice more. Erazo led off with a bunt single, was sacrificed to second and scored on a Brad Gibbons double. A key play in the game occurred next, as Gibbons was caught trying to steal third on a failed bunt and run. Miller then doubled to right and Frankie Molina singled him in on a liner to left, but had the failed bunt and run not occurred, Estrella might have had another run. “We said all year long that we wouldn’t do anything
different [in the championship] than we’ve done all year,” coach McCubbins said. “We came out and we bunted and bunted, we hit and run and slashed, and we were really successful at it as the night went on. We missed a couple, but for the most part we played our game.” Estrella couldn’t hold on to its lead though, and just
ZACH MILLER lays down a bunt for Estrella Foothills in Friday’s
like last year when the Wolves were beaten by Lakeside Blue Ridge on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, they fell just short of the season’s ultimate goal. “It hurts probably just as much,” Erazo said. “We had it and it got away from us.”
Division III state seminfinal game against Fountain Hills. Miller was Estrella’s starting pitcher but did not figure in the decision as the Wolves advanced to the championship game with a 7-6 win in eight innings.
Despite the heart-wrenching loss, Estrella put together another phenomenal season, going 26-6 to break their record for wins in a season. It just didn’t end the way everyone wanted it to. “These guys had a bull’s-eye on their back all year,” McCubbins said. “They came out preseason No. 1 in February and it stayed that way all the way. You talk about kids dealing with pressure and adversity all year long, so I’m incredibly proud of them.” “Now that I think about it, it’s an awesome feeling because not many people get to do that, [play in] back-to- back state championships,” Erazo said.
Semifinal victory Estrella’s semifinal win also had high drama, as the
Wolves squandered a lead in that game as well, only to win in extras, beating Fountain Hills 7-6 in eight innings. Cameron McCubbins smacked a one-out double over a
drawn in outfield in the bottom of the eight for the walk- off victory. “We were taking a strike being how close of a game it
was, and I always like to crowd the plate just to give the pitcher a shorter strike zone,” McCubbins said. “Once I got that first strike I made sure I scooted back and was waiting for my pitch.” For coach McCubbins, it was a special moment
watching his son lift the team to the state championship game.
“It really didn’t matter who it was, it just happened that that spot came up, but it obviously made it extra special,” coach McCubbins said. “I don’t root for him any more than anybody else, we do a pretty good job of separating the father-son relationship, but once it’s all said and done and the game is over, then I get to be a dad a little bit.” Just like the Wolves did against River Valley, they struck early and often against Fountain Hills. Estrella tallied in each of the first three innings, taking a 6-3 lead. The first inning was critical, as Estrella made Falcons starter Nick Wojtysiak throw 35 pitches. The Wolves had three hits, taking a 2-1 lead. “We did a good job of battling consistently, fouling balls off and making him work more than we usually do,” coach McCubbins said. “[Wojtysiak] had more than 80 strikeouts coming into the game. When you can get to a kid that’s been that good and that consistent, it takes them
out of their comfort zone and makes them second guess themselves.” It was 3-3 in the bottom of the third when Estrella scored three more times, knocking Wojtysiak out of the game. Williams led off with a double and one out later scored on a Miller single. Molina doubled to put runners on second and third, and after Giannini grounded out to the pitcher, Armor followed with a pinch-hit, two-run single up the middle to make it 6-3. “It was pretty big,” Armor said. “I was just trying to do something for my team, I haven’t been that productive very much this season so coming through there was big, it felt pretty good.” “I talked to David after the game and told him he came up huge,” coach McCubbins said. “He’s been really trying to focus this whole week of practice on staying short, not getting too big, not over-swinging, just making solid contact. He came up huge.” The score stayed 6-3 until the fifth when Fountain Hills got a two-run homer from Wojtysiak to make it 6-5. In the seventh, the Falcons would tie the score, chasing Miller, Estrella’s starter, from the game.
walked consecutive batters, loading the bases. That’s when McCubbins pulled Miller and put in Erazo. “[Assistant coach] Gregg [Pelka] felt good with Zach continuing to throw, we knew he was tired and when he walked those last two guys it was a no-brainer, but all through his three years of high school whenever he gets in trouble he gets himself out of it, he buckles down and gets through it,” coach McCubbins said. “He didn’t have his best stuff [Friday] but enough to keep them off balance and put us in position to win.” Erazo came in and allowed a suicide squeeze that tied the game, but he struck out the next batter to end the inning. Estrella didn’t score in the bottom of the seventh, but Erazo struck out the side in the eighth, leading to the dramatic finish.
“I think what helped was the last game when they really put it on me, I gave up all those runs,” Erazo said. “That really motivated me to shut them down.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached by email at email@example.com
Miller allowed a leadoff single, and one out later
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