CHAMPIONS!! Mesa Baseball Wins the Region I Championship in an 8-7 Walk-Off

CHAMPIONS!! Mesa Baseball Wins the Region I Championship in an 8-7 Walk-Off

Mesa, AZ - The Mesa Thunderbirds have punched their ticket to the 2019 NJCAA National Championship tournament with an 8-7 walk-off win Saturday afternoon at MCC.

Between a big lead by Mesa, a huge comeback by Gateway and all the frills and thrills in between, this was a championship to be remembered.

It also ends Mesa's drought of going to Enid, Oklahoma for the big dance, considering their last appearance was in 2014, the year they brought home the national championship.

Mesa scored the first four runs in the game in the second and third innings, beginning with an RBI fielders choice by Ben Ferguson that scored Greg Student.  In the third, Connor Denning connected on a solo homer over the scoreboard to make it a 2-0 game.  Greg Student later singled in Taylor Darden to make it a a 3-0 game.  Student would later score on a wild pitch.

Gateway would add run in the top of the fifth inning but in Mesa's half of the fifth, Zach Wagner knocked in Demetrio Botello and Josh Leslie to push Mesa's lead to 6-1.

Mesa added anothe run in the sixth inning when Luke Patty doubled down the right field line to score Connor Denning, making it a 7-1 game.

The Geckos then rallied back, scoring four runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth to tie the game at seven.

In the bottom of the ninth, Taylor Darden led off the inning with a walk followed by a Paul Steffensen single.  Greg Student then hustled out a bunt single, which loaded the bases for Josh Leslie.  

On the very first pitch of the at-bat, a wild pitch snuck under the Gateway catcher and went to the backstop, which allowed Darden to sprint home for the game winning run.

Winning pitcher on the afternoon was Cody Tucker, who pitched the final 2.2 innings.  Cameron Doherty started for the T-Birds and was rock-solid, throwing 6.1 innings, allowing 11 hits, four earned runs while striking out six.

The MVP of the series was game one starting pitcher Carter Robinson.

Mesa will now head to Enid, Oklahoma for the NJCAA National Tournament.  The tournament runs May 25th-June 1st.  A link to the NJCAA National Tournament website can be found below.


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