A rash of late-season injuries forced Sierra Vista to change its approach to winning baseball games.
The new formula was on display in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday. Four straight Mountain Lions reached base, culminating in an RBI single by ninth-place hitter Armando Perez, to send Sierra Vista to the Sunset Region final with a 5-4 home victory over Bonanza.
The Mountain Lions (28-7) will have to beat Bishop Gorman twice today to win the title, starting at 10 a.m. at Centennial.
In the ninth, after Blair Goldsack reached on an error, Connor Klein singled and Dusty Stevens beat out a well-placed bunt for another single.
That set the stage for Perez, who lined a single to right just in front of Bonanza’s Sterling Sprau, enabling Goldsack to score the winning run.
“I just thought be short and quick to the ball. Get a hit somewhere,” the junior said. “I didn’t want to put it on the ground in the infield — just get it to the outfield.”
Sierra Vista coach Nate Selby said he was pleased with his team’s ability to manufacture runs despite managing only one extra-base hit in the game.
“It hasn’t really been our MO the whole year, but it’s been our talk the last couple days,” he said. “Trying to find a way to do it with what you’ve got. We’ve had some injuries, but guys have to come in and (done) jobs, so that’s kind of been what we’ve been hoping — be scrappy and find a way to do with what we have.”
After a rough start, Sierra Vista also got some great pitching. Goldsack was called upon in the top of the first after a bad-hop single, an error and three walks by starter Tyler Condie put the Mountain Lions behind 2-0 with only one out and the bases still loaded.
The Bengals (19-14) added a run on another error, but Goldsack got out of the jam and allowed one hit and one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings to settle things down for Sierra Vista.
“Just like every other situation. It was just normal for me,” said the team’s usual closer. “I was ready to go in there and throw strikes and just win.”
The one hit Goldsack allowed proved costly, however, as Anthony Risucci hit a two-out line drive into right center to tie the game with two outs in the seventh.
Sierra Vista ace Nick Kingham struck out five and didn’t allow a hit in the two extra innings to earn the victory.
The Mountain Lions had a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh, but Sprau picked up his second outfield assist of the game by firing a strike to first baseman Hunter Davidson, who relayed home to throw out Stevens after a double by Perez.
“I tip my hat to them. I think it was just a great baseball game all the way around,” Bonanza coach Derek Stafford said. “We found a way to tie it and they just found a way to get one across. You can’t ask for any more from those kids. They left it all on the field.”
Kris Bryant struggled at the plate, striking out three times to go with two intentional walks, but allowed just four hits and two earned runs in six innings for the Bengals.
■ Bonanza 16, Legacy 5 — Heriberto Orozco drove in three runs and Bryant and Risucci each scored three times as the Bengals advanced in the first game of the day at Sierra Vista.
The Longhorns (23-10) grabbed a 3-0 lead, but Bonanza answered with six runs in the third.
Dominic Jeppi was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and worked three hitless innings on the mound to finish the game.
Green Valley coach Nick Garritano had trouble staying positive after his team’s 8-7 win over Silverado.
But at least his team stayed alive.
“A win is a win in the playoffs,” Garritano conceded.
Green Valley (28-6) survived to play Rancho (29-3) for the Sunrise Region championship at 10 a.m. today. Green Valley would have to beat the Rams twice to claim the crown and earn the region’s lone berth in next week’s Class 4A state tournament in Reno.
“Fortunately we move on to tomorrow,” Garritano said. “It’s a tough task ahead of us.
“It’s definitely tough when you’re playing the way we are.”
The Gators, who averaged 10.9 runs in Southeast League play, struggled offensively for the second day in a row. A day after Rancho’s Zak Qualls threw a no-hitter against Green Valley, the Gators managed only five hits against Silverado.
“I just told the kids that I don’t recognize this team right now,” Garritano said. “I’m not sure what it is, but we just don’t have a lot of confidence in the box. And they have 16 hours to try and gain some confidence.”
Green Valley took advantage of five walks and three hit batters to take an 8-1 lead after four innings. Cameron Harper and Bobby Shiroky drove in two runs each.
But the Gators suffered from their own bout of wildness in the fifth, walking four, hitting a batter, throwing four wild pitches and balking home a run as the Skyhawks cut the lead to 8-7.
James Durbin finally shut down the Silverado comeback, throwing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed two hits and struck out four before giving way to Anthony Uran with two outs in the seventh.
“James did a phenomenal job,” Garritano said. “He didn’t want to come out.”
Though the Gators need to beat Rancho twice, they have some pitching remaining. Uran has thrown only one-third of an inning in the tournament, and Shiroky, who started the tournament opener, can come back on three days rest.
But Garritano admitted he probably will have to lean on pitchers who have thrown in recent days.
“Guys are just going to have to gut it up,” he said. “We’re going to throw guys on short rest. I told the kids we take care of them all year long, and now it’s time to pay the program back.”
Drew Robinson went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for Silverado, which finished 23-11.
■ Silverado 19, Coronado 5 — At Green Valley, the Skyhawks scored 15 runs in the second inning, when Bobby Johnson and A.J. Ford combined to drive in nine runs.
Johnson finished 4-for-4 with a double, four runs and four RBIs. Ford was 3-for-4 with a grand slam and six RBIs.
Zane Korth and Taylor Giordano homered for Coronado, which finished 17-9-2.In-depth high school sports coverage