To Green Valley’s Matt Harrison, Tuesday was just another day.
Though his team took the field facing a must-win situation, Harrison calmly delivered three doubles in five at-bats to lead the Gators to a 9-6 victory over Coronado in the American Legion state tournament at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
The Cougars were eliminated with the loss.
“I knew we had to win the game,” Harrison said. “But I also knew it was just another baseball game. You just can’t put too much pressure on yourself.”
Green Valley coach Ron Sufana said he talked to his players Tuesday afternoon about the importance of remaining mentally collected.
“I told them they had nothing to lose,” Sufana said. “I told them we’d get to play another day if we won, and if we lost, we’d pack it up and call it a season.”
Harrison helped give Green Valley an early lead, as his one-out double to right field was followed by a two-run homer by Nicholas Melino to make the score 2-0.
Coronado answered in the fourth inning by capitalizing on three hits and two Gators errors to go ahead 3-2. Gary Detwiler stretched the lead to 4-2 an inning later with a solo home run.
But Gators starter Maximillano Javate, who limited the Cougars to two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings, settled down from there.
“I really like to play in these situations,” the right-hander said. “I knew we had our backs against the wall, but getting the early lead gave me extra confidence.”
Green Valley supported Javate with a run in the sixth, then made the most of three Coronado errors to mount a four-hit, six-run attack in the seventh to go ahead 9-4.
Sufana said he wasn’t surprised to see his seventh-seeded team go ahead of the second-seeded Cougars.
“There was no scare factor,” he said. “Seeding doesn’t mean anything once you start tournament play. We know (Coronado). They’re a good team and a rival in our league.”
The Cougars scored on Carmen Romano’s fly in the seventh and added a run on a passed ball in the eighth, but Green Valley’s Joshua Bray pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to save the game for Javate.
Dominic McGovern went 3-for-5 with a double for the Gators, who will play Reno at 8 p.m. today.
Steven Pollocks went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Coronado, which stranded nine runners.
• Sierra Vista 13, Reno 1 — In the winners bracket game, the Lions erupted for seven runs on five hits in the fourth inning and cruised to a seven-inning victory over the Knights.
Jake Hager went 3-for-3 with five RBIs to lead Sierra Vista, and Kiel Harmon (10-1) allowed three hits in six innings to get the win.
The Lions will play Thursday in a third-round game between the winner of today’s Green Valley-Reno game.