Doing math in the back of his head, Tucson Desert Christian baseball coach Grant Hopkins guesses that only one of his players might have been alive the last time his program made it to a state title game.
That list got significantly longer Friday, as No. 4 Desert Christian eased by No. 17 Pima for an 11-0, five-inning win in the Division IV semifinals at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Desert Christian (25-4) will play No. 3 Phoenix Christian at the same location for the state title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s been a long, long time for Desert Christian,” Hopkins said.
Desert Christian struck early, scoring six runs in the first to back sophomore pitcher Zach Malis. Malis, who missed practice Thursday with a head cold, rode that momentum to a two-hit shutout, striking out nine.
He never let a runner get past second.
“I was feeling a lot worse yesterday,” Malis said. “I’m still not feeling great today, but I think the adrenaline from it being a big game kind of helped a little bit.”
Desert Christian batters touched up Pima pitcher Manny Talavera for nine hits, but Pima continually shot itself in the foot with five errors, including two each in the first and second innings.
It was a far cry from the team that knocked off No. 1 Yuma Catholic in the first weekend of the tournament.
“Those are errors that we didn’t make last weekend, when we were playing some of our best baseball,” Pima coach Greg Cooper said. “Those things just compound.”
While Desert Christian’s title-game opponent had to scrape and claw for a win on Friday, Hopkins isn’t concerned that his team will lose focus after such an unexpectedly breezy win.
If anything, he said, getting done a few innings early will help his squad.
Especially their coach.
“This win, you know what it makes it easier for? Me, because I don’t have a big hole in my stomach and I’m not worrying or throwing up or something,” Hopkins said.
Malis went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Daulton Hopkins was 2 for 2 with two runs knocked in and Trevor Jorg plated three runs for Desert Christian.