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Harrison powers Gators’ berth

Green Valley was supposed to be out of gas heading into Saturday’s game against Sierra Vista.

Somebody forgot to tell the Gators.

Brett Harrison’s go-ahead grand slam ignited a surge of four consecutive home runs during an eight-run sixth inning that rallied Green Valley to an 11-8 victory over the host Mountain Lions for the final berth in this week’s Class 4A state baseball tournament.

“It was absolutely the most incredible game I’ve ever played in,” Harrison said.

The senior crushed a hanging curve to center field to put the Gators (32-7) ahead 8-5. Chad Whiteaker, Alec Hutt and Zack Vergiels followed with long solo homers.

“After the fourth one, I was just going crazy,” Harrison said. “I couldn’t control myself.”

Green Valley was playing its eighth game of the week and fifth in three days. But that didn’t stop the Gators from rallying from a 5-0 deficit. They scored three runs in the fifth to chip away, then sent 11 batters to the plate and put on a ridiculous power display in the sixth.

Sierra Vista starter Blair Goldsack tired in the inning, and the Gators used a single, an error and a hit batsman to load the bases before Evan Van Hoosier walked to force in a run and make it 5-4.

Dusty Stevens replaced Goldsack and struck out Gabe Douglas for the second out. Then came Harrison’s blast.

“It was my turn to come up and just do my job,” Harrison said.

The Gators took the longest possible route to Saturday’s game. They lost on Tuesday to fall into the losers’ bracket of the Sunrise Region tournament, so they had to win three more games just to reach Friday’s region final.

They won the first game Friday to force a deciding game in the double-elimination tournament, losing to Rancho, 9-5.

“I told the offense they’ve got to produce today,” Green Valley coach Matt Stoner said. “Our pitching was shot.”

Sierra Vista, playing in its sixth game of the week, made things interesting in the top of the seventh before its season ended with a 34-5 record.

Harrison, who pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief to get the win, ran out of steam in the final inning. He walked in two runs before handing the ball to Royal Bradley with one out and the bases loaded.

Jake Hager singled off the glove of diving third baseman Braden Rogers to bring in a run and make it 11-8.

But Bradley got Conner Klein to foul out to catcher Vergiels, then retired No. 3 hitter Scott Tomassetti on a chopper over the mound to Harrison, who had moved to shortstop.

Since Wednesday, Harrison compiled two wins and two saves and threw 194 pitches in 10 1/3 innings. He said the hardest part of the final out wasn’t fielding the ball, but making the short throw to first.

“My arm’s about to fall off,” he said.

“I was almost going to run it over to first, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to throw it. I didn’t know if I had to underhand it over there or what.”

Vergiels went 3-for-4, and Douglas was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

For Sierra Vista, Hager went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Tomassetti was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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