Legacy claims Northwest's final playoff spot

The Legacy baseball team’s seven seniors were looking for more than just a win on Senior Day.

Their season was on the line.

Legacy came through with a 10-1 victory over Palo Verde on Wednesday and earned the Northwest League’s fourth and final playoff spot when Centennial beat Arbor View, 6-5.

Senior right-hander Austin Christiansen threw a six-hitter, striking out 11, to get the win.

“I was carried by emotions as I didn’t want this to be the last game for me and my fellow seniors,” Christiansen said. “I hit my spots with my fastball on the black of the plate, the curveball was working really well, and my change-up had them off balance.”

Christiansen had at least one strikeout in every inning except the sixth.

“He was pretty much in control that whole game,” Legacy coach Bill Dexheimer said. “He hit his spots. He’s not a guy who is overpowering, but when he hits his locations he can be effective.”

Christiansen faced only 14 hitters through four innings and struck out the side in the fifth.

Legacy’s Richard Esquivel was hit by a pitch and scored on a throwing error in the third to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.

Donald Glover scored on a wild pitch in the fourth and drove home Andres Ortiz in the fifth to push the lead to 3-0.

The Panthers threatened a big inning in the top of the sixth after getting their No. 9 hitter Zac Benson safely to third, but Adam Thompson made a heady play to get Benson out in a rundown after fielding a ball hit sharply to third.

“He (Benson) took off toward the dish, we executed the rundown, and that was key for that inning for us,” Dexheimer said.

With two outs in the sixth, Alex Bonczyk hit an RBI single that scored Branden Hepworth to make it 3-1.

Legacy’s center fielder Chase Skinner made a clutch catch at the 395-foot mark in dead center on a drive by Palo Verde’s Brandon Laubhan with two runners on to end the rally.

“He (Laubhan) put a good swing on the ball, and as soon as it left the bat, I was thinking 'stay in the yard, stay in the yard,’ ” Dexheimer said. “That was a huge out for us.

The Longhorns scored seven runs in the sixth, all with two outs, for the final margin.

Palo Verde (20-9) ended Northwest League play at 10-4.

Legacy (19-7) finished 9-5 in league play and will face Bishop Gorman on Tuesday in the opening game of the regional.

“Obviously, for us, this win was huge,” Dexheimer said. “It’s definitely a new season, and we’re going to be ready to work hard the next few days.”