Mason Gray had a productive week and due in great part to his mound success he, his teammates and head coach will participate in a state baseball title game for the first time.
Gray pitched his second victory of this week with a solid 6 2/3 innings on Saturday night leading #8 Pinnacle to a 5-2 victory over #5 Corona del Sol at Diablo Stadium.
Pinnacle (26-8) had to play through the loser's bracket this week to qualify for the state title game. That meant winning three games, including beating Corona del Sol twice. Gray's three-hit shutout Tuesday over Boulder Creek, Jason Nelson's victory over Corona on Friday and Gray's encore performance in this one did the trick. Corona del Sol saw another successful season under coach Dave Webb end with a 23-8 record.
Pinnacle faces #10 Hamilton for the championship on Tuesday May 16 at 7 p.m. at Diablo. That will cap a busy two days for both schools as their softball teams collide for the 6A championship Monday May 15 at 7:30 at ASU's Farriington Stadium.
"Mason's proven he's a big game pitcher," Pinnacle coach Roy Muller, who will coach in his first title game in his 45-years of coaching, said. "He pitched big again tonight. It feels pretty good to win a game like this. I've lost this game (semifinal) four times before."
Gray was treated to run support right away. Pinnacle scored four times in the top of the first against Corona's ace lefty Daniel Sotelo, who bested Pinnacle last week to send the Pioneers to the loser's bracket.
Sotelo had trouble with his command most of his three innings of work. Pinnacle's four runs came via two walks, an error and a pair of doubles. James Wicker's two-run, two-bagger was the big hit and Zack Hull drove in a run on his hit.
Pinnacle scored its fifth run in the top of the second -- an RBI single by CJ Schauwecker. With that lead in hand, Gray kept Corona off the board the first three innings. The junior right-hander allowed a hit in each of the first five innings (two in the third and fifth), but induced ground-ball outs to end every inning (11 ground outs for the game). He scattered seven hits, walked three and fanned three. Corona's nemesis along with Gray was runners left on base -- 12.
Corona, however, managed to stay in the game thanks to four innings of shutout relief from Matt Novis. The Aztecs scored on a wild pitch in the fourth and tallied an unearned run in the fifth to pull within 5-2.
Corona made its final at-bat a tense one for Pinnacle. after Gray tossed his only 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. Gray got the first two outs of the seventh and an easy chopper was booted to give Corona life. Muller took Gray out as his pitch limit loomed in favor of closer Ty Woessner.
Woessner surrendered a single and hit a batter to load the bases. The final out was a line drive to short by Venkat Narayanan.
Gray appreciated the big lead his team supplied.
"It made it easier to go out there," Gray said. "I was getting my off speed pitches over, and the defense helped get some big outs. I was trying to get quick innings to keep the momentum going."
Leadoff hitter Jake Holmes had a pair of hits and scored twice and Hull also had two hits. Novis led Corona with two hits.