The wait was worth it.
First pitch didn’t happen until 10:39 p.m., Tuesday. The last out happened at 12:30 a.m., Wednesday.
And there was enough energy left for Chandler Hamilton’s baseball players to sprint down the third-base line and run one more time, after an 8-1 6A state championship win over Tempe Corona del Sol at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
It was the third state title in four years and seventh overall for the Huskies.
Freshman pitcher Logan Saloman knew he was getting the ball Saturday night in the biggest game of his life for Hamilton.
He then had to wait another 3 1/2 hours to take the mound Tuesday, as Scottsdale Horizon finally put away Nogales 7-4 in a 16-inning 5A championship at Diablo that was the longest state title game in Arizona high school baseball history.
Saloman gave up just three hits in seven innings, settling into a nice groove after giving up the only run in the first on a slider that he said he left over the plate.
“It was tough,” he said. “I was a little amped up. I just had to calm myself down, and do what I normally do.”
It was the second year in a row that a freshman took the ball and led his team to the state championship in the state’s biggest conference.
Last year, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor freshman Barrett Skaugrud pitched his team to a 7-1 win over Glendale Mountain Ridge in the 6A final, going the distance.
Hamilton won its first state baseball title in 2003, under coach Mike Woods, having to wait out what was then the longest state championship game in history, a 4-3 4A victory by Chaparral over Coronado in a 12-inning game.
But Woods never coached a title game when the first pitch was 10:39 p.m.
“At first you get anxious, then it feels ludicrous,” Woods said. “But both teams had to deal with it. We had this in 2003.
“You just got to roll with it. What are you going to do? I just wanted to make sure the guys weren’t frustrated by it.”
Much of the crowd emptied out after the Horizon-Nogales marathon.
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But it took only an inning to know where the Hamilton-Corona game was headed.
After Corona struck first with a run in the first, Hamilton scored six in its half of the inning. It was highlighted by Brock Selvidge’s three-run homer beyond the left-field wall on the grassy berm.
“I knew a fastball was coming,” he said. “I had two off-speed pitches before. It was more a right-center approach, but when you keep your head down like that, things are going to happen.”
That blast was the dagger, giving Hamilton a 6-1 lead.
Selvidge had two hits on Tuesday, and added another on Wednesday, going 3-for-3.
“He had an incredible batting practice (on Tuesday),” Woods said about Selvidge. “He was hitting bombs all over the place in batting practice.”
Woods told his freshman he would get the ball after Shane Murphy pitched the Huskies into the state final on Saturday. Even as he waited and waited to take the big stage Tuesday, there was no doubt in Woods’ mind that Saloman would come through.
“His temperament is not like a freshman,” Woods said. “He throws to his spots really well. I’m proud of him. A great moment for him.”
Nobody was too tired to celebrate when there was hardly anybody left in the stands.
“Let’s just make this our moment,” Woods said.
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