Scott Baker was a junior at Basic the last time the Wolves won a state baseball title.
Now the school’s head coach, Baker and Basic earned another shot at state on Saturday.
The Wolves used a balanced attack on offense, a handful of defensive gems and the arm of sophomore C.J. Dornak to post a 6-0 victory over visiting Green Valley to claim the Division I Sunrise Region championship. The win locked up a berth in the state tournament, which begins on Thursday at Bishop Manogue.
“We always talk about getting two of the three, from pitching, defense and offense and I think we get all three today,” Baker said. “To get all three, it’s very difficult to beat somebody. I can’t say enough about everybody. It was a team effort.”
Basic (33-4) got all of its runs in the second inning, as it sent 10 batters to the plate while chasing two Green Valley pitchers.
David Hudleson walked with the bases loaded to score the first run. J.J. Smith scored on a wild pitch, and Christian Rivero had an RBI groundout.
Ryne Nelson and Garrett Giles added RBI singles, and another run scored on a balk.
From there, Dornak and his defense put the clamps on the Gators (23-12). Dornak used an effective fastball to stall Green Valley, scattering four hits and allowing just one baserunner to get past first base. He struck out two.
It was the second time Dornak had shut down the Gators, as he threw a one-hitter against them during the regular season.
“We set it up for him to throw this game,” Baker said. “Even though he’s a sophomore, we’ve seen him pitch in big innings before. The composure and the poise he has is unreal.”
And anytime the Gators tried to get anything going, someone behind Dornak was making a spectacular play.
In the top of the second it was Hudleson robbing Drake Maningo of a base hit when he dove behind second base and threw a dart to first for the out. In the top of the third Hudleson’s backhand flip to shortstop Ryne Nelson led to a double play.
Green Valley’s Frankie Fitzgerald tried to take an extra base after hitting a single on the right-field line, but Trent Bixby fired a bullet to Hudleson to cut down Fitzgerald. Catcher Roger Riley got in on the action when he caught pinch runner Brandon Bayne lagging off first base in the top of the seventh. And first baseman Jack Wold was stellar throughout the game, making several scoops out of the dirt.
“It’s not just my pitching, it’s my defense; they give me confidence when I’m on the mound,” said Dornak, the fourth Basic pitcher who to throw a complete game in as many games in the tournament. “We’re not just a team, we’re a family. We trust one another to back each other up.”