As a freshman, Hunter Miller has had to wait his turn to be in the spotlight this season.
That changed with one swing of the bat Tuesday.
Miller delivered a two-out, bottom of the seventh inning RBI single to left field, driving in the winning run as host Salpointe Catholic High School rallied to defeat Gilbert High 13-12 Tuesday in a Class 5A Division I elimination bracket game.
“I just felt confident in that at-bat,” said Miller, who had drawn two walks in his previous two plate appearances. “I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it.”
Salpointe, the No. 12 seed, moves on to play either Mesa Red Mountain or Scottsdale Desert Mountain on Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the elimination game of the double-elimination tournament.
The game-winning hit, which came with the game tied at 12, was set up when Joe Serrano reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder off Gilbert pitcher Thor Nelson. Serrano then stole second, followed by Salpointe’s Dan Slania drawing an intentional walk, setting Miller up with runners on first and second with two outs.
“I was looking for a pitch down and in,” Miller said. “That’s my sweet pitch.”
Gilbert, the No. 13 seed, took a 6-5 lead after scoring in the top of the sixth inning, followed by a seven-run bottom of the sixth by Salpointe. The Lancers’ 12-6 lead wouldn’t last, though. Gilbert tied the game with six runs in the top of the seventh.
“When we went to the bottom of the seventh tied, we knew we could get a run,” Miller said. “It was just a matter of who was going to get it. We’re very confident. We are a family. We were just relying on each other to get a clutch hit.”
Salpointe coach Dan Preble took the blame for Gilbert’s rally, saying he left Slania on the mound too long.
“I looked like a big idiot leaving Dan in so long,” Preble said. “I wanted him to finish. He deserved it. He just ran out of gas.” Slania helped his team with his bat driving in two runs with a two-out double the sixth.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.