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Shamrocks one win away from a state baseball championship berth

Shamrocks one win away from a state baseball championship berth

Yuma Catholic survives to win game one in the best of three series against Northwest Christian 7-5 in 10 innings

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY-TV) – The Northwest Christian Crusaders’ combined 25 regular season and postseason win streak was snapped by the Yuma Catholic Shamrocks earlier this year. It was an 11-1 victory in five innings for the Shamrocks in Yuma on March 1.

“The loss we handed them was their first loss in three years,” Yuma Catholic head baseball coach Judd Thrower said. “We understand the game was an anomaly, but it also gives us the confidence to go out and compete.”

Northwest Christian is the defending state champion in 3A. The Yuma Catholic Shamrocks lead the Crusaders to a third straight title, the only team to defeat the champions. The Shamrocks are making their third straight appearance in the semifinals of the best-of-three game. The Shamrocks have been looking to return to the state championship game since 2012 and the program’s first title since 2006. That was when Yuma Catholic played in 2A.

On Tuesday evening, the Shamrocks jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the Goodyear baseball complex. Yuma Catholic held the lead until the bottom of the sixth inning when Northwest Christian tied the score at 5-5.

The game went into extra innings and perhaps the turning point came in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Crusaders had the winning run on second base with one out. Shamrock pitcher Ivan Guzman’s throw to Cole Muscari was driven to right center field and caught by Mickey Fox. The runner tried to tag from second to third but was shot down by the left-handed Yuma Catholic, ending the inning.

“That was a big moment for us,” Thrower said. “It really gave us life.”

The next inning, the Shamrocks scored two runs and held on for the 7-5 victory, defeating the defending champions for the second time this year.

“Proud of the way our team fought for the win,” Thrower said. “We faced adversity throughout the game and made great plays for the win.”

The win is nothing new for the Shamrocks, having forced a game three in each of the past two semifinals. Last year, Yuma Catholic won game one of the series against Valley Christian before dropping the next two in a row.

Two years ago, against ALA-Gilbert North, they lost, won and then lost the decisive game three.

This year, the Shamrocks hope to break the trend.

“Our pitchers Hiram Silva and Ivan Guzman really threw well in big pitches,” Thrower said. “Just amazing how they kept coming up inning after inning.”

With the Shamrocks in charge, coach Thrower was able to put his ace to good use, leaving Mickey Fox behind in game two on Thursday.

“I’m not sure who we’re going to pitch yet,” Thrower said. “Mickey is a nice weapon to have in your pocket.”

Game 2 is next Thursday at 6:00 PM at the Goodyear Baseball Complex. Game 3 would be played on Saturday night if necessary.