ENID, Okla - The magical season came to a magical end as the Mesa baseball team claimed the NJCAA Division II title with a thrilling 9-7 win in 11 innings over Hinds (Miss.) Saturday night.
The championship caps what is arguably the greatest season in MCC history with a 52-13 record and adds a fourth baseball championship in school history. The 1970-72 teams all won NJCAA crowns.
No. 1-rankled Mesa took a 5-0 lead early but had to rely on late-inning heroics as the T-Birds won five straight games to bounce back through the losers' bracket after an opening day loss to Vincennes (Ind.).
Jordan Zimmerman (Fr., Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain H.S.) was named the tournament's MVP after going 14-28 and setting a tournament record with 14 RBIs.
In the 11th Zimmerman led off with a triple and scored on a base hit by James Anderson (Fr., Henderson, Nev/Coronado H.S.). With Danny Garlid (Fr., Tempe, AZ/Seton Catholic H.S.) running for Anderson, he went to second on a passed ball and then scored when Zack Soria (Fr., Chicago, Ill/St. Rita H.S.) filed out. A single by Cole Loncar (So., Olympia, Wash/Olympia H.S.) drove in Byers. Wes Byers (So. Prescott Valley H.S.) Bradshaw Mountain H.S.) ran for Loncar, stole second and then scored on a single by Drew Lacomb (So., Las Vegas, Nev/Spring Valley H.S.).
That set the stage for a dramatic bottom of the 1th.
Ace Joseph Carvalho (Fr., Palmdale, Calif/Paraclete H.S.) entered to attempt to nail down the win. He allowed one run but ended the contest with the winning runners on base. He induced a ground ball to shortstop with the bases loaded and the Eagles' Marshall Boggs, who set a tournament record with 16 hits, at the plate.
MCC jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first. Casey Moses (Fr., Las Vegas, Nev/Centennial H.S.) led off the game with a single. He moved to second on a ground ball and scored on a Zimmerman single.
In the third Alex Gudac (Fr., West Jordan Utah, Juan Diego Catholic H.S.) singled, stole second and came home on a base hit by Anderson.
MCC added another single run in the fourth on a single by Gudac that plated Lacomb and then jumped to a 5-0 margin in the sixth on a two-run single by Zimmerman which scored both Lacomb and Dillon Fahr (So., Las Vegas, Nev/Coronado H.S.).
The Eagles finally reached MCC starter John Havird (So., Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain H.S.) in the sixth after he had blanked them on two hits through five. That knotted the score before Evan Fresquez (Fr., Las Vegas, Nev/Coronado H.S.) finally shut the door.
Mesa went back in front 6-5 in the next inning when Loncar singled and scored on Lacomb's double.
Hinds answered immediately and there it stood until the 11th..
Fresquez eventually went 4.2 innings before Carvalho wrapped up MCC's amazing season.
The T-Birds collected 18 hits in the game. Lacomb was 3-5 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored, Zimmerman was 3-6 and drove in three and Loncar was also 3-6 and knocked in one.
Fahr, Anderson, Moses and Gudac all added two hits apiece.
Overall, MCC won nine of ten post season games, with four of the wins coming in less than nine innings on the mercy rule. The T-Birds also shared the regular season ACCAC championship with Division I Central Arizona and swept all four games it played against the two teams that played for the Division Western DistrictI championship..
Nick Schuman (So., Mesa, AZ/Westwood H.S.) was named Pitcher of the Tournament and Mesa head coach Tony Cirelli was Coach of the Tournament.
MCC also had three other players chosen on the all-tournament team, Gudac, Fresquez and Soria.