No. 5 Canyon del Oro over No. 2 Saguaro 4-1

May 16, 2023 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Canyon del Oro. (Andy Morales/AZPreps365)

Canyon del Oro started the 4A state playoffs some 16 days ago as the fifth seed but the Dorados left Tempe Diablo Stadium late Monday night as the top team after winning five straight including a 13-11 win over No. 4 Mesquite in the second round and an 8-4 win over top-seeded Salpointe in the third round almost two weeks ago. Staying in the winner’s bracket gave the Dorados time to rest their arms and refocus and the team needed both to get past No. 8 Bradshaw Mountain 6-5 in nine innings in the semifinal round last Wednesday.

The victory over Bradshaw Mountain featured a win over former Dorado Brian Bundrick (1991), who has skippered the Bears since 2016, and a loss there would have forced a second game that could have ended the Dorado season and it might have changed the pitching rotation for the state final Monday night where Lucas Casey and Chris Humphreys combined on the mound to defeat No. 2 Saguaro 4-1.

Canyon del Oro (21-10) finished the season with an 11-1 record but the start began with 10 wins against nine losses and it looked like a playoff run to defend the 2022 state championship was not going to happen but, in retrospect, three of those early losses came during invitational play and regular season losses to Sunnyside, Nogales, Tucson, Salpointe and Catalina Foothills gave the program a power-ranking boost that resulted in a higher seed and a true picture of what was to come.

Saguaro (Andy Morales/AZPreps365)


For Saguaro (25-9), the season had a similar feel with six losses but all of those came during invitational play, which have no bearing on the power-point structure, and the Sabercats entered the state playoffs with a 17-1 record in games that counted, which accounted for the No. 2 seed. Still, an 11-1 mercy-rule loss to No. 2 Sahuarita in the third round made life more difficult for head coach Joe Muecke but his squad responded with three straight blowout victories in elimination games to get to the state final on Monday. Two of those wins came against Sahuarita in the semifinal round where the Sabercats won 9-1 to force the “if game” that resulted in a 16-1 win the next night.

Casey threw 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and Humphreys finished the game and his lone strikeout triggering a pile of Dorados near the mound with the team celebrating the win and the continuation of a dynasty:

Saguaro has three state championships (1992, 2010, 2011) and the Dorados started the night with nine (1979, 1984, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2015, 2022) and the victory gave the program ten championship with only Tucson (29), St. David (18) and Nogales (11) having more. Chaparral also as 10.

The march to the latest championship began with two outs in the top of the first with Jacob Charlson picking up a single and Michael Jones connecting on a triple for a 1-0 lead. Ernie Alvarez came up with what turned out to be the winning run on a double that was lost in the lights to score Jones. Cade Shumard picked up a ground ball to end any further damage but the Dorados plated two more in the top of the second to go up 4-0. Sam Martinez singled and then Adrien Marquez walked to start things off. Jackson Kokoskie sacrificed the runners over where Humphreys knocked them in. Shumard collected five strikeouts in three innings of work, Billy Gregory threw three innings with two strikeouts and Cam Caminiti threw the last inning to keep the Dorados off the board the rest of the way but the Sabercats had several chances to draw even.

(Andy Morales/AZPreps365)


Caminiti and Shumard reached to start the bottom of the first but two strikeouts and a pickoff from Casey ended that threat and the Sabercats loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with two outs but another strikeout put an end to another opportunity. The Sabercats manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a leadoff walk from Cam Schmidt, a stolen base from pinch runner Brick Schultz and a score on a ground out from Donovan Davis.

Casey Zander Bratspis hit Casey hard to start the bottom of the seventh but Grant Young snagged it at first base and then Humphreys replaced Casey on the mound and Casey went to the outfield. Caminiti was the only Sabercat with multiple hits but his shot to right field was snagged by Casey for the second out. Humphreys got his strikeout and the Dorados won 4-1.