Baseball: Empire 17, St. David 3by Andy Morales on Apr. 18, 2013, under Sports
At this point of the baseball season, the only record that counts are for the games used for seeding purposes. For Empire, that means a 10-4 record in Division III.
With 24 teams making the playoffs for all four divisions, Empire is holding on to one of the last at-large bids in D-III with Willcox (15-2), Bisbee (13-3), Morenci (14-2) and San Tan Valley Combs (12-3) taking up the four automatic bids from Section II.
Thatcher (8-5), Tombstone (9-6) and Rio Rico (10-5) are within striking distance of postseason.
St. David (7-6) is the defending D-IV champion and the Tigers hold the last automatic bid in Section II of their division despite losing to Empire 17-3 Thursday. Desert Christian (12-2), Ray (12-1) and Pusch Ridge (9-5) hold the other three bids.
Valley Union (7-8), San Manuel (5-7) and Tanque Verde (6-9) are still in the running for an at-large bid for D-IV.
Empire’s season has been a reflection of the what the whole baseball season has been like. The Ravens beat Salpointe in the Cowboy Up Tourney to start the season but then dropped a 17-0 decision to Sahuarita on Wednesday.
Ron Goodman guided his team to a 26-4 record last year when they won it all and a 22-6 record the year before when they were runner up to Tanque Verde. Barely above .500 this year, St. David has three games left to try to improve their playoff status this year.
Tom Belter had a dream season in 2010 when he took an 11 seed all the way to the state championship game and he guided them to a sectional championship last season on a 19-10 record but it might prove more difficult this year with a lower seed.
Empire went up early and scored three runs in the first inning, four in the second, three in the third and seven in the fourth for the mercy-rule win over St. David.
Leadoff batter Brendon Thaggard went 3-3 with a double; Ryan Stewart walked three times and had an RBI double; Donny Sands went 3-4 with a double and 6 RBIs; Josh Hawks had a home run and 3 RBIs; Andres Hackman had an RBI single; Jared Kromminga went 2-2 with an RBI; Colton Stokes went 2-3 with a 2-run homer; Jaymon Cervantes walked and scored twice and Joe Smith picked up another hit.
In all, every Raven contributed to the victory. Stokes (6-0) took the mound and gave up two earned runs on five hits. Stewart pitched the final inning.
Shane Bradford had a difficult outing for St. David and he was replaced by Myka Campbell in the third inning.
Tel Dillman went 2-3 and scored two runs to lead St. David and Jessie Willis came up with 2-RBI double. Also collecting hits were Bradford and Chris Campbell.
Empire hosts a double header against Baboquivari (3-6) on Monday and St. David visits Tombstone on the same day.