It came as no surprise when Blue Ridge on May 14 whipped Estrella Foothills 8-6 in nine innings to win the 3A conference “state” baseball championship.
It was not a shock because the Yellow Jackets compiled an impressive 31-2 record and entered the tournament, which began May 6 at Surprise Baseball Complex, clutching a No. 1 seed.
Among those who anticipated the Yellow Jackets would be in contention for the state crown was PHS coach Scott Novack.
Although the Horns gave BR a pair of its toughest games this season, PHS lost to the Jackets 5-1 on March 29 and 5-2 on April 30.
During the season Novack lauded the Lakeside school for having “one of the best high school pitchers in Arizona.” He was referring to Sebastian Kessay, who finished the year with a miniscule 1.28 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 71 innings.
In the state tournament, the Jackets opened with a ridiculously easy 22-0 win over Monument Valley, and then beat a Florence team 8-1 that a day earlier eliminated Payson 10-0 in the tournament’s first round.
In Blue Ridge’s win over Florence, Kessay struck out 16.
In the semi finals, BR whipped River Valley 10-5.
The 3A conference tournament is the final one to be held.
Next year, all high school team sports will compete in the section-division configuration that individual sports, like wrestling, golf and track, did this year.
The new format replaces the region-conference alignment that has been used for decades.