By: Brett Quintyne
The 2014 Hamilton Huskies baseball team’s season ended on May 20th. It was the day that all division one and division two teams hope their season ends– and for Hamilton the 8-4 victory over Mesquite meant they were crowned champions for the 4th time in school history and their first baseball title since 2008. “We had to finish in order to call ourselves the best team” said coach Mike Woods, who has been in charge of the program ever since the school opened in 1998.
This season started and ended with the Huskies playing the Mesquite (Gilbert) Wildcats. In the first of four meetings between the two squads Hamilton shut Mesquite out 11-0. The maroon, black, and silver would go on to win their first 15 games of the year and find out a lot about themselves. Elite pitching helped six of those first 15 wins come by shutout. It’s also where the nine seniors realized this was their last season playing together and they had something special. “It’s a comfort thing, we can pretty much read each other’s minds when we are on the field” said senior third baseman Justin Wylie.
“We’ve all been playing together since 7th or 8th grade” mentioned senior Austin Filiere, who is headed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology next year.
This determined team shook off a couple of mideseason losses, then proceeded to rip off seven consecutive wins. The highlight of the second streak was a 3-2 win over then 2nd ranked Mountain Pointe. Senior Kent Hasler struck out 10 in what was his first complete game of the season, and that really seemed to be when Hamilton knew they had the makings of a team that could go a long way. “I didn’t think we’d win 20 of our first 22 but we are playing well, but it is still April” coach Woods said
They would finish their regular season 25-3 and I recall saying to Coach Woods before their first playoff game against Chandler, “I am here for the run.” He chimed back “Brett, let’s hope there is a run this year”. He was briefly referring to the single elimination format in the first two rounds that saw the Huskies upset by Corona the previous year. There indeed was a run, and while Hamilton seemingly was in control during the postseason they did have to overcome some injuries. After delivering 3 hits in the first playoff win against Mesquite, Justin Wylie suffered a high ankle sprain in practice and missed the contests against Liberty and Chaparral. In addition, Senior first baseman Jacob Boston was injured in the title game and had to leave early.
Junior Zach Pederson got the start for the Huskies in the championship game and finished the season 12-0. “This win was for the seniors, they carried us all year long”, the righty hurler said. “Blake King is the only catcher I’ve ever thrown to since I’ve gotten here” he added. Pederson will more than likely be the staff ace in 2015, and will have to get used to pitching to another catcher next season (King is graduating).
30 Wins and 3 losses is their final record, the best record in school history. To top it all off, Maxpreps’ Freeman Rankings have the Huskies listed as the best high school baseball team team in the country.