PHOENIX – Last Friday, May 6, the Greyhills Academy High School Knights’ energy fizzled in the state baseball tournament while their opponent, Fountain Hills’ bats sizzled in the afternoon heat as they dominated the game to win in five innings 16-1 at Maryvale Baseball Park.
The Knights were short handed for their first trip to the state playoffs in baseball. They fielded a team of 11 players. Their starting pitcher came down with a bad sore arm and couldn’t pitch; their first baseball was nursing an injury and had to play careful so as not to strain his ligaments; their center fielder had his injured finger wrapped with a splinter; and as if that was not enough, their right fielder hurt his hand sliding into the home plate.
The Knights were switched around the last minute and several players started in positions where they hadn’t played all season. Andrew Ketchum could not pitch so he was sent out to center field; Amos Smith went from center field to second base; Ryan Bizardi went from second to short stop; Wamsutta Brown went from short stop to catcher; and Ryne Hemstreet went from catcher to pitcher. All this after the line up for the game had been submitted. The coaches then had to resubmit the line up prior to the start of the game.
The players had to be reminded several times during warm ups to prep up and get some energy, and only then, would the players jog and talk it up for a while, and then it was back to their lack-luster lagging on the field. It was no wonder the coaches were on edge. This was the state tournament…the dream of every high school baseball team.
The Knights went up to bat first and they went down one, two, and three. The Falcons batted and they hit the ball off Hemstreet and before the Knights could blink, Ruch, Demone, and Lessie had scored and they were up 3-0.
The Knights went to the plate with their shining aluminum bats at the top of the second, a slight warm breeze crossed the seventh diamond, and the anxious Knights fans waited for the chime to start, but they went down again one, two and three. It was a sign of things to come. The Falcons continued their foray at the plate and they scored six runs to go up 9-0 before the Knights could get them out.
Ryan Sangster finally came to bat. It turned out he’s the only one who had the Falcons’ pitcher’s number as he got a base hit. Alec Tree followed and advanced Sangster to second. The energy that was lacking seemed to have found its way back into the Knights dugout by this time. The Knights loaded the bases and there were outs.
But a heads up move by the coach from Fountain Hills changed the Knights threat. He brought in a new pitcher. It was one of those luxury moves that a coach can afford when he has four or five pitchers in the bull pen warming up and getting ready to be called upon.
Sangster was the only Knight to cross home plate for the afternoon. The loaded bases did not added any more runs as one Knights went out with three strikes; Alec Tree tried to make it home on a double hit, but was thrown out. The third out was a fly and the energy dissipated in the hot afternoon sun.
The Falcons scored three more runs at the bottom of the third and four runs in the fourth. At the top of the fifth, the Knights went down again one, two, and three. The game was over.
The Knights gained some experiences at this level of competition against teams that play year-round baseball. You take your bumps and your lumps. Hopefully, they will be lessons learned. You don’t think about those who failed to keep their eligibility; you don’t think about the prom coming up the next night back home; you don’t take about other north teams who suffered losses earlier in the day by a score of 25-0 and 21-0; and you don’t hang your dreams on your expected prom date who says, “I’ll only go with you if you hit a home run.”