Stepna’s legs, glove key Arbor View’s 13th straight baseball win

Nate Stepna appreciates his role as leadoff hitter for the Arbor View baseball team.

“I know that if I start it, everybody is going to roll behind me,” Stepna said.

The senior set the table Saturday, and the Aggies delivered.

Stepna stole three bases and scored three runs, while also making a crucial catch in right field in the seventh inning to preserve Arbor View’s 8-7 win over visiting Desert Oasis.

“Resilient is a very good word to use,” said Aggies coach Chris Martinez, whose team improved to 14-1 with its 13th straight win. “We got a little sloppy in the middle innings there. But bottom line, the kids found a way to win and didn’t give up. They preserved and battled the entire game.”

Stepna led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a line-drive single up the middle and then stole second base. He moved to third on a groundout before P.J. Gonzalez’s single brought him home to tie the game 6-6.

“The previous two at-bats, (Desert Oasis pitcher Jordyn Compehos) wasn’t really throwing strikes, and I saw the guy hitting before me taking pitches,” Gonzalez said. “I went up there knowing he was going to throw me a fastball, and I was going to sit on it.”

Evan McMahan followed by lacing a double into the gap in left-center to score the go-ahead run. Gonzalez finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs, and Stepna went 1-for-2 and was hit by a pitch twice.

“What we try to preach to our kids is to win every inning,” Martinez said. “We have a simple philosophy of first guy getting on, second guy getting him over and the next two guys scoring him.”

The Diamondbacks (8-3) didn’t back down in the seventh, getting the tying and go-ahead runs on base. But Stepna then made his diving grab, and shortstop Nick Quintana handled a hot ground ball and stepped on second to end the rally.

“I knew we had to make the catch with runners in scoring position,” Stepna said. “I laid out and did whatever I could to make the catch.”

Tyler Garrison pitched a perfect sixth inning to get the win for Arbor View, which led 6-1 after two innings.

Dominic Paratore went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run to pace the Diamondbacks.

Contact reporter John W. Scafetta at jscafetta@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430.

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