Coronado baseball coach Rich Santigate saw the Class 4A Sunrise League turn into a frenzy throughout the regular season.
“It was just crazy,” he said. “A lot of enigmas this year, where teams just beat each other.”
The second-year coach was hoping for a more predictable outcome, in which records and seeding stayed true to form, in his team’s playoff opener Tuesday afternoon.
Garett Lake drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and picked up the save after pitching two innings as the fourth-seeded Cougars held on for a 7-3 home win over No. 5 seed Liberty.
“Great win, especially against Liberty — our local rival — in a tough four-five game,” Santigate said. “We knew it would be a tough game. That’s why we worked so hard to get the home-field advantage. We’ve got a good camaraderie, and things are going good at the right time.”
Coronado (19-11) will travel to face top-seeded Green Valley (25-5) in the winners’ bracket semifinal at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Liberty (15-15) hosts Las Vegas (13-18) in an elimination game at 4.
For a moment on Tuesday, it appeared the Cougars might cruise to victory. But after blowing an early three-run lead, Coronado needed a fifth-inning rally to pull away.
After a costly fielding error by the Patriots put runners on second and third with no outs, the left-handed Lake pulled a single to right field to give Coronado a 4-3 lead.
Cristian Herrera and Boston Mabeus each added an RBI as part of the team’s three-run fifth, and Jake McLean drove in another run in the sixth.
“We were a little resilient,” Santigate said. “We were up, then they kind of made that run at us. And we answered back. I think we’re getting hot at the right time. … We’ve been preaching to them all year (that) you’ve just got to keep playing the game. There’s no clock. You just have to keep playing the game. And they bought in.”
Lake struck out three and didn’t allow a hit in two innings of relief.
Liberty pitcher Michael Wong struck out five and gave up three earned runs in six innings. Jordan Moreno was 2-for-4 with an RBI double, and Jacob Rogers went 1-for-4 with a double.
Foothill 7, Rancho 3 — At Rancho, the Falcons scored three runs in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach of the Rams.
Tommy Dirk was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles for Foothill (16-14). Alex Elizondo drove in two runs for the Falcons.
Joseph Walls was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs to lead the Rams(20-7).
Foothill will travel to play Basic (23-7) at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and the Rams will host Silverado (14-16) at the same time.
Green Valley 10, Las Vegas 0 — At Green Valley, Carter Gehlken was 3-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI as the Gators knocked off the Wildcats in five innings.
Drake Maningo was 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Garrett Nelson was 1-for-2 with two RBIs for the Gators.
Matt Gilbertson fired a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and one walk to get the win. He also drove in two runs.
Basic 12, Silverado 1 — At Basic, Jack Wold was 3-for-3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs as the Wolves beat the Skyhawks in five innings.
Trace Evans was 2-for-3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs, and Roger Riley went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for Basic.
Paul Myro was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Wolves, who had 12 hits.
C.J. Dornak and Hunter Martin combined on a one-hitter for Basic. Dornak allowed a first-inning single to Payton Ballard. He didn’t give up an earned run in four innings and finished with five strikeouts to get the win.