Baseball Caps and Gowns: CDO Seniors Graduate and Win State

Canyon del Oro baseball seniors ended their high school academic and athletic careers on the same night, and they are walking out with diplomas and trophies in hand. The Dorados beat top-seeded Tucson, 3-1 to win the Division II state title Tuesday night.

“I can’t explain it; it is hard to put it into words,” Canyon del Oro starting pitching Gabriel Benavdides said. “We are excited to go back to CDO and go to Project Grad, and see our students.”

The Dorados were able to capitalize on mistakes and manufacture enough runs for the win. Great defense and stellar pitching performances by Gabriel Benavides and Nick Ames stifled the Tucson bats.

“I liked Gabe a lot. I told him I only needed him for three innings. I had enough guys to come in as reserve and put more people out there, but he gave us five (innings),” Canyon del Oro head coach Keith Francis said.

Coach Francis returned to the CDO program this season after spending time with the University of Arizona as a volunteer coach.

“I chose a good year (to return),” Francis said. “I didn’t know this team was anything like this. I didn’t know anything about high school baseball; I kind of lost track when I got away to U of A. I was pretty fortunate to get this group.”

This group is the standard Francis wants for years in the future.

“I knew one thing, and that is we are CDO, and we are supposed to be here. Every year.”