GOODYEAR - Desert Christian lost its state tournament opener last season with freshman Zach Malis on the mound.
Malis, now a sophomore, was back on the mound Friday night in the Eagles' second-round game, and he made sure the outcome was different this time around. Seventh-seeded Desert Christian overcame a shaky start to beat No. 13 Tempe Prep 7-3 at Goodyear Baseball Complex in its playoff opener. The team had a first-round bye.
"Our boys were a little tight, first game of the playoffs," Desert Christian coach Grant Hopkins said. "We knew once we broke it open a little bit we'd loosen up.
"I'm proud of the guys, we needed this monkey off our back and I think (today) we'll see a different team."
The Eagles (23-4) will face No. 5 Williams in the Division IV quarterfinals today in Goodyear. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Malis improved to 7-2 with the complete game. He gave up four hits, walked four batters, stuck out six and survived a season-high five errors behind him.
His bat, however, made an even bigger impact.
Malis sparked the Eagles offense to life with a two-run triple to the right-center field gap in the bottom of the fifth. His hit broke a a 2-2 tie and put Desert Christian up 4-2. One batter later, Malis scored on a single to right by Trevor Jorg to make it 5-2.
"That made it a lot easier to pitch up there," Malis said. "It was my job to hit them in so I just did my job like everyone else did theirs."
The hit capped a three-run inning for the Eagles, who scored five runs in their final two at-bats.
Camron White hit a two-run inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the sixth to lock up the win. It was White's first home run in high school; he's hoping it can give the team some momentum heading into today's game.
"Not a better time to do it than in the state playoffs," White said about his shot to the right-center gap.
Lions roll past Bagdad
GOODYEAR - Seventh-seeded Pusch Ridge Christian scored six runs in the first inning with the help of two-run singles by both Jacob Frithsen and Donny Perdue and never looked back on its way to a 12-6 win over No. 23 Bagdad on Friday afternoon. The Lions (20-8) will play No. 18 San Manuel today at 11 a.m. at Goodyear Baseball Complex in the Division IV state quarterfinals.
Bagdad pitchers hit five batters and walked another seven while the defense made five errors to help Pusch Ridge jump out to an 8-1 lead in the third inning. The Sultans scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning to narrow the gap but Pusch Ridge responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Ravens beat No. 4 seed
SURPRISE - Empire advanced to the Division III state quarterfinals Friday night with a 9-6 win over No. 4 Scottsdale Christian at Surprise Stadium. The No. 13 Ravens (22-6) jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the third inning. Sophomore Donny Sands struck out 12 over seven innings for his second complete game win this year.
Empire will play No. 12 Bisbee today at 1 p.m. in Surprise with a state semifinal berth on the line.