Desert Oasis didn’t have an easy time putting away reigning Class 5A baseball state champion Basic in an elimination game Thursday.
The Diamondbacks saw their two-run lead in the fourth inning evaporate. And after taking a three-run lead in the bottom of the sixth, the Wolves scored two runs in the seventh.
Ryan Martin, the Diamondbacks’ fifth pitcher of the game and third of the inning, faced the top of Basic’s lineup with two outs and the bases loaded.
Martin forced Basic’s Ty Southisene to hit a pop-up behind home plate. Catcher Jake Cook secured the catch to clinch an 8-7 home win for the Diamondbacks in a 5A Southern Region playoff game at Desert Oasis.
With the victory, Desert Oasis, the No. 2 seed from the Mountain League, qualified for next week’s state tournament in Reno. The Diamondbacks won the Class 4A state title in 2019.
“These kids deserve it. They really do deserve it,” Desert Oasis coach Paul Buboltz said.
Desert Oasis will play at Bishop Gorman, the Mountain’s top seed, at 3 p.m. Friday for the Southern Region title, which will also determine seeding for the state tournament. The Diamondbacks will have to win twice to claim the Southern title and be the South’s No. 1 seed in Reno.
“This group of seniors, what they went through during COVID — this is my last group of the COVID babies — they really do deserve it,” Buboltz said. “They’ve worked their tails off all year.”
With the game tied at 5 in sixth, Desert Oasis loaded the bases with nobody out, and Cook raced home for the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
One batter later, left fielder Noah Griffith drove in two more runs on his single to put the Diamondbacks ahead 8-5.
Basic didn’t go away easily. Derek Bain doubled to score Tate Southisene, and Lyndon Lee’s sacrifice fly scored Cooper Sheff, which cut the deficit to 8-7.
Seth Graham-Pippin, who came in relief in the fifth, had reached his pitch limit, and Buboltz brought in Adrian Mejia from the bullpen. After Mejia walked Randall Riley and hit Koa Won to load the bases, Buboltz brought in Martin from shortstop to get the final out.
“I was hoping for (Graham-Pippin) to finish it, but he ran out of pitches,” Buboltz said. “We made a couple of moves and ended up getting a good hitter out.”
Cook scored on a ground out to give Desert Oasis a 1-0 lead in the first.
Basic responded in the top of the second when Ty Southisene blasted a three-run homer to left field.
The Diamondbacks exploded for four runs in the second, sending all nine batters to the plate in the inning.
The Wolves tied the game in the fourth with two runs on a pair of groundouts.
“I told them to have fun,” Buboltz said when asked what his message was to his team when Basic tied the game. “This is the game you want to be in and let’s go win.”
Basic, the No. 2 seed from the Desert League, beat Arbor View 5-1 in an elimination game earlier Thursday to earn a shot at Desert Oasis.
“Basic is a good team. We have to tip our caps to them,” Buboltz said. “This game is one for the ages. It’ll be a game that I remember for as long as I’m coaching. It’s a pretty special moment for these kids and this program.”
Desert Oasis will face Gorman for the fourth time this season Friday. The Gaels prevailed in two of the three meetings.
Gorman defeated Desert Oasis 8-3 in a winner’s bracket game Wednesday to qualify for the state tournament.
Desert Oasis handed Bishop Gorman its first loss of the season March 22 behind Graham-Pippin. He allowed two hits, one run and struck out seven in a 2-1 Diamondbacks win.
Bishop Gorman got the better of Graham-Pippin in the teams’ second regular-season meeting. The Gaels exploded for a 10-run fifth inning to claim an 11-1 win in five innings April 15.
“We used quite a few pitchers (against Basic),” Buboltz said. “We’re going to go (to Gorman) and have some fun (on Friday). And we’ll be ready to go next week.”