Bonanza baseball coach Derek Stafford quickly summed up his team’s surprising run in the Sunset Region playoffs.
“Hey, man, I’m in shock,” Stafford said after his team’s 5-1 win over Cimarron-Memorial on Wednesday. “And I think some other people are, too.”
It’s unlikely even Stafford would have predicted that Bonanza, which was 15-14 in the regular season, would be the last undefeated team in a stacked Sunset Regional — but that’s exactly where the Bengals are after a 3-0 start in the tournament.
Bonanza has beaten the Northwest League champion (Shadow Ridge), the Southwest League champion (Cimarron) and the winner of the past seven Class 4A state titles (Bishop Gorman).
“It’s incredible,” senior cleanup hitter Travis Ming said. “I’m completely speechless about that.”
Bonanza (18-14) got a strong outing from No. 3 pitcher Will McKenna, who allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and two walks. McKenna threw 90 pitches, 59 for strikes as he attacked the Cimarron lineup.
Daniel Romero, Joaquin Orozco, Travis Ming and Alec Taft each had two hits for Bonanza, which will play in the Sunset championship round at 1 p.m. Friday. Should the Bengals lose that game, a second would be played to determine the title.
“We’ve just believed in each other, believed that the person in front of us or behind us will get the job done and just trusted each other,” Orozco said.
Gerald Robins was 4-for-4 with a double for the Spartans (25-7).
Bishop Gorman (28-6-1) plays Shadow Ridge (30-4) in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today at Sierra Vista, with the winner playing Cimarron at 4 for the right to face Bonanza.
■ Shadow Ridge 2, Arbor View 1 — The Mustangs scored two unearned runs in the third inning, and Cory Royer fired a four-hitter as the Mustangs edged the Aggies (30-6) to stay alive.
Royer struck out five and pitched out of trouble throughout the game, as Arbor View stranded six runners in scoring position.
Shadow Ridge took advantage of two third-inning errors to score two runs.
■ Bishop Gorman 8, Desert Oasis 1 — Matt Hudgins hit a grand slam in the first inning to power the Gaels over the Diamondbacks (19-14).
Cadyn Grenier was 3-for-3 with three runs for Gorman.
■ Liberty 9, Rancho 2 — Dan Skelly gave up one earned run on six hits in five innings as the Patriots beat the Rams in the winners’ bracket final at Las Vegas High.
“In short, Dan pitched his butt off today,” Liberty coach Nick Didier said. “He kept their hitters off balance. We were tight in the beginning, but once we got into the game, we loosened up. Sometimes, you just have to go out and play through the adversity.”
A second-inning outburst helped Liberty settle in. The Patriots scored five times in that inning, keyed by a bases-loaded walk to Giovanni Battistoni, a run-scoring single from Preston Pavlica and a two-run double from James Martz.
Pavlica had four hits and scored three times, and Martz drove in four.
Modler had two hits and drove in a run for Rancho (21-14).
Liberty (26-4) moves into the championship round and will play at 1 p.m. Friday. Green Valley (23-10) plays Coronado (28-3) in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today, with the winner meeting Rancho (21-14) at 4 for the right to play Liberty.
Should Liberty lose the first game on Friday, a second would be played to determine the champion.
■ Green Valley 3, Foothill 2 — Christian Hall’s squeeze bunt scored Anthony Hatch in the 11th inning to keep the Gators’ season alive.
Hatch started the winning rally with a one-out single. Jarod Penniman hit a grounder to second, but A.J. Mortel misplayed the ball, and Green Valley had runners at second and third.
■ Coronado 18, Basic 9 — Michael Maiello hit three of the Cougars’ five home runs as they eliminated the Wolves (13-21).
Julian Burrola and Tyler Brown each added a two-run shot. James Anderson was 4-for-5 for Coronado.
Maiello had four RBIs, and Brown had three hits and drove in three runs.
DIVISION I-A SOUTHERN REGION
■ Faith Lutheran 5, Boulder City 1 — Brenden Meyer struck out eight and allowed one hit in five scoreless innings to lead the Crusaders over the Eagles at Faith Lutheran.
Caleb Summerhays had an RBI triple to highlight a two-run fifth that pushed the lead to 5-0.
Moapa Valley (17-9-1) plays Chaparral (22-8) at 4 p.m. today, with the winner facing Boulder City at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game will face Faith Lutheran in the championship round on Friday.
■ Chaparral 7, Tech 5 — Zach Harman’s two-run double highlighted a seven-run third as the Cowboys eliminated the Roadrunners (13-10).
■ Moapa Valley 10, Western 0 — Kasen Hughes went 3-for-4 with a triple, a double, two RBIs and three runs to help the Pirates to a five-inning win over the Warriors (12-19).