Something had to give in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 1A Baseball State Championship at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday, May 13.
The score was 2-2 heading into a fourth extra inning and the top two seeds in the state playoffs, defending state champ Bagdad and Mogollon, were putting a classic duel between pitching staffs on display.
But even the relieving pitchers in the defensive showcase had gone five innings when it happened.
Thanks to a couple of hit batsmen, fielders’ choices and a base on balls, the Mustangs got their first five batters on base, loading the bases on three occasions, and scored four runs to clinch a dramatic 6-2 victory.
“This is everything we dreamed of,” said Mogollon head coach Reed Porter. “We had a goal at the beginning of the season — to win our section. We had not done that in a while. Then we said, ‘forget that, we want to get through the first round of the playoffs.’ We did that and we said, ‘forget that, let’s be state champs.’ And we haven’t looked back.”
Timmy Porter led off the top of the 11th inning and got hit by a pitch. Then, the bases were loaded after Denin Porter and Dallin Rice reached base on fielders’ choices.
When the fourth batter, Caden Owens, got hit by another pitch, Timmy Porter scored a go-ahead run. Denin Porter scored to make it 4-2 with no outs when Fisher Porter got on with a base on balls, and Rice scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
Runners stayed on base when Cael Porter hit a fly ball in the infield for the first out. Owens got picked off at third for the second out before Seth Reidhead singled to bring in the final runner, Fisher Porter, which made it 6-2.
A pair of fly balls and a ground ball to second led to three quick outs in the bottom of the inning and the Mustangs started celebrating the school’s third state baseball title.
Freshman Malaki Porter led Mogollon at the plate with a 3-for-4 outing, including an RBI triple in the fifth inning, which gave the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.
Seth Reidhead, a senior, was 2-for-5, including a single in the 11th which brought home the Mustangs’ sixth and final run.
Junior pitcher Dallin Rice went 5 2/3 innings on the mound to start the game. He scattered five Sultan hits and gave up two earned runs during his stint and struck out four batters.
“I’ve always trusted my defense,” Rice said. “We had the best defense in the nation in my opinion. I trusted my team 100 percent. Our team beat Bagdad for the title 15 years ago and they are our ooaches now. It’s insane. We went back to our roots.”
Timmy Porter, another junior, pitched the final 5 1/3 scoreless innings, gave up four hits and struck out two for the win.
“All year it has been me and Dallin (on the mound),” Timmy Porter said. “The whole postseason we said, ‘Dallin will do his thing and then I’ll come in there.
“Every time I was little Bagdad was always No. 1 and we never played them. We knew if we played our game like we know how, we could beat them. A lot of hard work payed off.”
Mogollon, the No. 2 seed, began the state playoffs at Goodyear Baseball Complex on Friday, May 3, and defeated No. 15 Fort Thomas 15-1 in five innings.
The Mustangs, who got nine hits, were led at the plate by Timmy Porter, who was 3-for-4 with two triples and five RBi. Trey Tenney, a senior, was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Malaki Porter was 2-for-3 with one run batted in.
Reidhead pitched the first three innings, gave up a hit and an unearned run, and struck out five Apaches for the win. Caden Owens fanned three batters in the final two innings on the mound.
Mogollon defeated Anthem Prep 10-3 in the second round on May 4. The Mustangs overcame an early 1-0 deficit with five runs in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth to take a commanding 10-2 lead.
Reidhead was 2-for-2 at the plate, including a home run and two bases on balls, and drove in three runs. Timmy Porter (1-for-4, triple), drove in two, as Mogollon got 10 hits.
Timmy Porter, Reidhead and Rice all made appearances on the mound. Rice pitched five innings and gave up five hits, two runs (one earned) and struck out nine for the win.
In the semifinal round on May 10, Mogollon took a 3-1 lead and added three runs in the fifth for insurance for a 6-1 win against Sells Baboquivari.
The Mustangs got six hits — three for extra bases. Timmy Porter (1-for-3, home run) drove in three runs. Trey Tenney (2-for-3) and Reidhead (1-for-3, base on balls) each hit doubles and Denin Porter (1-for-3) had an RBI.
Rice pitched the first 3 1/3 innings and gave up two runs and an unearned run while striking out five for the win.
Timmy Porter scatted one hit over the final 3 2/3 innings and struck out three Warriors.
The Mustangs finish the season with 23 wins and four losses — the best record in school history. Mogollon was 20-8 after winning the 1A title last in 2006. The Mustangs finished 17-5 after winning the school’s first championship in 1992.
“We lost to St. Johns and Alchesay, both good (2A playoff) teams,” Coach Reed Porter said. “Then in the Morenci tournament we lost a couple of games (to (3A) Safford and Miami (a 2A playoff team).
“These guys play hard and are best friends. When you have that chemistry, great things happen.
“In the Chandler Prep tournament, Bagdad and Ray went into the upper bracket. We won the Gold Bracket but I think people kind of overlooked us,” said the coach. “When it comes down to winning, these guys compete. After seeing what we did on defense, Bagdad had runners on base in every extra inning. This feels great.”