Phoenix Pinnacle’s offense was the story of the Between The Lines national baseball invitational this week.
But pitching came through Thursday night in the state’s top-ranked team’s 3-2 victory over Stillwater (Okla.) in the championship game at Phoenix Horizon.
Junior Mason Gray pitched six strong innings, and junior Tyler Woessner, pitching for the first time in the tournament, had scouts’ radar guns all pointing at him in the seventh when he retired the side without giving up a hit.
Leadoff hitter Jake Holmes’ third hit of the game to start the bottom of the seventh extended left-hander Brian Skllman long enough to have him reach 100 pitches by the time he got the second out.
Out-of-state schools have to abide by Arizona pitch-count rules. For juniors and seniors, they can’t exceed 105 pitches in an outing.
With a right-hander coming, Patrick Donovan smacked the third pitch he saw into left field for a hit that scored Holmes from second and set off a celebration.
“Once we got rid of that lefty, we scored,” said Donovan, who also drove in a run in the first with a single.
After Jack Johnson’s RBI single in the first gave Pinnacle (13-1) a 2-1 lead in the first, Pinnacle didn’t score again until Donovan’s single.
Pinnacle had scored 42 runs in the first three games of the invitational.
Pitching was just as great, as the Pioneers allowed a total of seven runs in four games.
“We came in knowing we had pitching, knowing we had defense,” said Holmes, a shortstop, who has signed with Arizona State. “It was a matter of the bats coming around, and it did.”
Stillwater gave host school Horizon its first loss of the season in the tournament. Horizon bounced back Thursday with a 7-6 win over Santa Fe out of Edmund, Okla.
Gray is third in the Pinnacle rotation but he had ace stuff on Thursday. Other than the home run he gave up to Oklahoma State-bound shortstop Ryan Vilade the second batter of the game, Gray was magnificent. He retired nine batters in a row from the first to the fourth innings.
Stillwater tied the score at 2-2 in the fifth after Skillman tripled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Gardner.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” coach Roy Muller said. “We have a lot of arms and we’re getting quality pitches from them.
“We’re proud of them. If they can put up with an old, crusty coach like me, we’ll be all right.”
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert