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Palo Verde outlasts Basic in extra innings in spring opener

It’s been more than a year since Palo Verde and Basic got to play a high school baseball game, and they decided seven innings wasn’t enough in the season opener Friday.

Pinch hitters Kaiden Smacka and Kody Bialas hit back-to-back RBI doubles in the eighth inning, and Joey Loubert worked out of a jam in the bottom of the frame as Palo Verde held on for a 4-3 win at Basic.

“We have a really inexperienced team this year, but it’s a lot of guys that bond together and we have good chemistry,” Palo Verde coach Joe Hallead said. “A lot of guys got their first varsity experience today against the No. 2 team in the state. We’re just happy to be playing baseball.”

Basic led 1-0 after a pair of errors on pickoff attempts allowed courtesy runner Tee Southisene score in the second inning, and Jesus Gonzalez shut down the Palo Verde offense for the first four innings.

Aric Anderson led off the fifth with a home run to right field to tie the score, and Tommy DiLandri unloaded on a pitch from reliever Gavin Stevenson for a home run to left an inning later to put the Panthers in front 2-1.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh. Cooper Sheff drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. He was called safe at third on a stolen-base attempt, then trotted home with the tying run when Landon Gallegos roped a double down the left-field line.

“Early-season games tend to go to the home team because of being last up and the momentum,” Hallead said. “We thought we had the out at third base with the steal. They tied it up, but so what? Next play. That’s our motto. Next play. The guys did a great job.”

After the Panthers pushed across two runs in the eighth against Ty Southisene, who took the loss, the Wolves responded immediately.

Hunter Katschke doubled to the right-centerfield gap, and Christopher Acosta-Lopez and Gonzalez singled, the latter of which drove home Katchke to make it 4-3.

Loubert, making his varsity debut, struck out Sheff and got pinch hitter Kyle Cracchiola to fly out to center. Palo Verde third baseman Cal Erickson then got off-balance but recovered to field a ground ball from Gallegos on a short hop and take it to the base for the final out.

“You want to see what your guys do when the chips are down,” Hallead said. “That’s when you find the true character of a player. It’s easy when you’re winning 20-0 every game, but when you’re down, how do the kids react? They reacted great.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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