Originally Published: July 15, 2018 6:02 a.m.
Faces Mt. Graham-McCormick Ranch winner Tuesday in quarterfinals
MESA — Prescott Little League’s 11-and-Under All-Stars will have had three weeks to prepare for the Arizona state tournament by the time the team battles the winner of Monday night’s first-round game — that pits Mt. Graham versus McCormick Ranch — in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, July 17.
2018 Little League Baseball: 11U Arizona State Tournament
Prescott 11U All-Stars
Field: Fiesta Sports Complex
Date: July 17-25
Opener: vs. winner of Mt. Graham-McCormick Ranch, 5:45 p.m. July 17
Manager: Terry Magnett
Roster: Colton Champion, Dominic Cruz, Coley Fundalewicz, Zane Gaul, Kaden Greenfield, Cooper Kasun, Cooper Magnett, Mason Oberan, Trace Overton, Jacob Patterson, Joshua Police, Adrian Sanderford, and Ethan Warren.
TUESDAY, JULY 17
Arizona 11U State Tournament
Fiesta Sports Complex, Mesa
Prescott vs. winner of Mt. Graham-McCormick Ranch, 5:45 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18
Arizona 11U State Tournament
Fiesta Sports Complex, Mesa
Prescott vs. TBA, 5:45 p.m. or 7:45 p.m.
First pitch for District 10 champion Prescott is at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday on Field 1 at Fiesta Sports Complex, 936 S. Extension Road, in Mesa. Mt. Graham (District 11, southeast Arizona) and McCormick Ranch (District 6, Scottsdale) are scheduled to play at 5:45 p.m. Monday on Field 1.
“I’m going down there on Monday night to scout the game a little bit, kind of see what we’re facing,” said Prescott manager Terry Magnett, whose squad won the District 10 tournament June 26 at Ziegler Field. “The [Prescott] boys are doing great. I see a pretty confident group.”
Nine of Prescott’s 13 players were on Prescott’s Minors team that placed third at state in 2017. Ironically, if Prescott wins in the quarters, it could take on Rincon (District 12 in Tucson), an 11U tourney favorite that knocked Prescott out of state last summer.
“The boys played really well in districts, obviously,” Magnett said. “With the three games we won, they did exactly what we were hoping they would do. I don’t care what sport it is, experience is always going to help. They’re not going to be overwhelmed going to state again.”
Prescott was one of three teams in the 13-team, double-elimination state tournament field to draw an opening-round bye. Four consecutive wins, on July 17, 18, 19 and 24, would hand Prescott the championship trophy.
“We’ll take it,” Magnett said of receiving the bye. “That’s like winning a game, really.”
Magnett said his team practiced all of last week in the late mornings at Upper Bill Vallely Field, which drains well, to avoid the monsoons. He added that Upper Vallely’s infield plays hard and fast like those in the Phoenix area.
“They’re a great group of boys, and they have worked super hard all summer,” Magnett said. “We’re excited to go get after this thing. The coaches have been wonderful, and it’s been really fun. I’d like to catch a little bit of that magic we had last summer and, hopefully, get it going again in state and see what happens.”
Prescott will lean on its three strongest pitchers, Adrian Sanderford, Zane Gaul and Cooper Kasun, to forge a run at state. Ethan Warren is capable, too, the manager said. In the district round, Prescott allowed only one run (which was unearned) in its three games.
“You really believe baseball’s a game of repetitions, and we’ve really worked hard on our defense,” Magnett said. “We really stressed to the boys, to the pitchers, throwing strikes. And we really, really have worked hard with the fundamentals of defense — just playing good, solid defense, not giving the other team extra outs — and communication in the field. Just being real positive.”
Magnett said his hitters have sparkled, too. In the district tournament, Prescott outscored the opposition 34-1.
“Obviously, you want to hit the ball and score a lot of runs, and I feel like we’re swinging the bats pretty well in practice also,” he added.
Prescott’s mostly healthy entering state. Centerfielder Trace Overton (tweaked knee) and catcher Jacob Patterson (jammed pinky on throwing hand) were limited in practice last week, but they should be fine, Magnett said.
The state tourney opened with four first-round games on July 14. Prescott’s situated in the bottom half of the bracket and would need only two straight wins to reach the winners’ bracket final on Thursday, July 19.
The 11U state tournament championship is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, at Fiesta Sports Complex Field 2. It pits the winners’ bracket finalist against the losers’ bracket finalist. If the losers’ bracket finalist wins on the 24th, it would force an if-necessary title game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, also on Field 2.
For Prescott to have a chance at vying for the championship, it should try to avoid dropping into the losers’ bracket. A loss in the quarterfinals, for example, would mean that Prescott has to win five games, from Wednesday, July 18, through Monday, July 23, to qualify for the title contest.
“If you go in the losers’ bracket, it’s a pretty big uphill climb,” Magnett said. “But, by all means, we’re going to throw our best pitchers and go at them as hard as we can that first game.”
On the other hand, if Prescott wins on Tuesday and loses in the semifinals on Wednesday, it would need three wins to reach the championship, from Friday, July 20, through July 23. If Prescott loses in the winners’ bracket final, it would need only one win, in the losers’ bracket final, to advance to the title contest. That’s an enormous difference.
“It’s going to take two really solid games by us to beat one or both of those teams [if it’s McCormick Ranch in the quarters and Rincon in the semis],” Magnett said. “It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be really tough.”