Shamrocks run-ruled in championship game loss
TEMPE — A season that began with dreams of a Division IV state championship for the Yuma Catholic baseball team ended with eye-black smeared from tears and hung heads in the visitor dugout.
In the blink of an eye, St. David exploded for seven runs in the first inning and the Shamrocks lost 14-4 in six innings in the title game Saturday night at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“They got the hits when they needed to in situations,” Yuma Catholic coach Curt Foppe said. “Tonight they were just better than us.”
Yuma Catholic starter Alex Demyan only got two Tigers out, surrendering six hits and seven runs, four earned, before being relieved by Brady Sorenson.
Offensively, the Shamrocks managed just three hits with Sorenson going 1 for 3 with an RBI and Matt Koppinger and Brendon Evans each finishing 1 for 2. St. David pitcher Tyler Davis pitched the entire game, allowing the three hits while walking three, striking out three, and hitting three Shamrocks.
“When you get spotted seven in the first inning, you can relax and go at people and he did a really good job,” Foppe said of Davis.
The Tigers scored their seven runs in the first inning off of six hits and a pair of Shamrock errors. Demyan opened up the game by surrendering three straight hits, including an RBI double to deep left field by Braden Murray, and the Tigers scored when Yuma Catholic catcher Wade McBride's throw down to third hit Nate Goodman in the back and rolled into left field.
Later in the inning, it looked like the Shamrocks had a chance to stop the bleeding when Demyan fielded a comeback groundball and made an easy throw to first, but the ball slipped away from Sorenson. Two batters later, Shane Bradford hit a bases-clearing triple to center field to give the Tigers the 7-0 advantage and ended Demyan's night.
“It's hard to dig out of a 7-0 hole. Even though there was a lot of game left, it's hard to get out of,” Foppe said. “It kind of just snowballed on us. They had a lot of hard hit balls, but a lot of them were just putting the ball in play. They were finding holes. I can't get mad at pitchers and say they aren't hitting their spot when they get bloop hits.”
St. David added another run in the second inning off Sorenson and went up 9-0 in the third inning off Evans, who pitched the rest of the night.
Yuma Catholic showed some life in the fourth when Koppinger smacked a one-out single to left field — the first hit of the night for the Shamrocks. After McBride was hit by a pitch and Evans reached on an error by the third baseman, Sorensen beat out an infield chopper to give the Shamrocks their first run of the game. Freshman Joey Miranda followed by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field, and Evans scored on a fielding error by St. David second baseman Joey Gonzales.
However, the Tigers responded by scoring four in the bottom half — thanks to two balks by Evans — to take a 13-3 lead. The Shamrocks extended the game in the top of the fifth when Evans hit a ball that bounced off Davis' shoe for an RBI infield single.
But the Tigers opened up the sixth with a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. After Evans struck out Gonzales, Bradford hit a walk-off single to right-center to win the championship.
“They played the best they could possibly play and we didn't play what we were capable of and sometimes that's how baseball works,” McBride said.
Last season, the Shamrocks lost 5-4 in the final inning to Scottsdale Christian in the semifinals. The fact that this season ended from the game finishing in the run-rule was a different kind of pain.
“It's frustrating to get 10-run ruled in the state championship, I'll be honest with you. But (St. David) earned it. They kept hitting and hitting and hitting,” Foppe said. “This is a great group of kids. And it ended in a horrible way, but the season was fantastic. These kids have nothing to hang their head on. There should be no shame in ending as the runner-up in the state.”