Chaparral baseball stave off comeback-minded Deer Valley

Chaparral pitcher Chandler Hutchens tosses a pitch during the Firebirds’ 13-11 win over Deer Valley Wednesday, April 25. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Faced with an extremely steep 11-0 climb after three innings, the Deer Valley High School baseball team marched its way confidently up that trail but just when it reached the apex, Chaparral High School soared a little bit higher.

Chaparral sophomore Tyler Stone made his only hit of the afternoon to knock in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to seal the Firebirds’ 13-11 win over the Skyhawks Wednesday, April 25 in the 5A play-in games for the state playoffs.

The loss sent No. 21 Deer Valley (14-14) back to Glendale while No. 12 Chaparral (16-13) will advance to the 5A playoffs. The Arizona Interscholastic Association will announce matchups Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

Third-year Deer Valley Head Coach Greg Rice said it was impressive to see how Chaparral hit the ball early but it was also impressive the way his team fought back.

“I’m extremely proud of our kids for fighting, chipping away and getting back in it,” Coach Rice said. “It was a battle. We had a chance to win it there at the end but it just didn’t get done.”

Chaparral pitcher Chandler Hutchens pitched four innings, three of which were scoreless, and tallied five strikeouts.

During those three scoreless innings, Chaparral’s offense went to work, scoring four in the second and seven in the third. Both senior Griffin Hampton and sophomore Trevor Long hit two-run home runs. Long also drove in two runs on a triple.

“These guys do a good job of taking what the guy in front of them does, whatever the situation presents and they get the job done,” Chaparral Head Coach Nicholas Steward said.

Chaparral senior Ryan Jordan (6) reaches for a catch as a Deer Valley runner retreats back to the base. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Deer Valley began its slow crawl back in the game with a pair of runs scored off of singles from juniors Caleb Hayes and Jacob Paige.

The Skyhawks added in two more runs to end the top of the fourth off a throwing error that bounced off a Firebird’s glove on a botched toss to first base, and automatically advanced all Skyhawks runners a base.

Most of Deer Valley’s damage came in the fifth where it mounted a seven-run rally with senior Wesley Hamen capping it off by driving in two runs and then scoring himself after the ball went into the dugout.

Hamen said early in the game, Hutchens’s pitching proved to be a bane for the Skyhawks but once Chaparral started committing errors in the fifth and sixth innings, that’s when they could take advantage.

“We started to see the fear in their eyes,” Hamen said. “We made them pay for it.”

Coach Steward said his team gave up too many walks, which allowed Deer Valley to get on base and get into scoring position. Coach Rice said having those players on and running well was key to his team’s comeback.

Playing too tight is what Hampton credited for the host of Chaparral errors during the fifth and sixth.

“You’ve got to play loose in this game,” Hampton said. “When we’re playing loose, that’s when we’re at our best but when we’re tight, it’s a problem.”

Both teams went through several pitchers. Junior Lucas Haugen finished out the game for Chaparral, cooling the Skyhawks’ hitting streak.

With the Firebirds advancing, Coach Steward said the focus until Saturday is to put the woes behind them and look ahead.

“At this point, it’s you find the next game, prepare for it, you execute and whatever the results are, that’s it,” he said.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.