An opponent’s offensive power can put a game out of reach real quick.
Unfortunately for Mountain Pointe, its exposure to the dominance of No. 2 Chaparral meant an early state tournament exit on Tuesday.
The Firebirds (24-9, 15-3 in power rankings) rode a six-run first inning and two home runs to a 12-2 home victory in five innings over the No. 15 Pride in the second round of the Division I state tournament.
“You’ve got to tip your hats to them,” Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. “They’re a very good hitting lineup and they put the ball in play hard. They had some really clutch two-out hits.”
In fact, seven of Chaparral’s runs came with two outs. Five of those were produced during the Firebird’s two-out rally in the first inning, which put the defending state champions on notice for some runs early.
What stood out to Buck was the Pride’s unwillingness to roll over despite their deficit.
“I thought we hit some balls pretty hard and guys just still battled every single time,” Buck said. “We never one time just kind of rolled over and said it was done.”
With Mountain Pointe (19-16-1, 12-6 in power rankings) down 10-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the 10-run rule was reached on a two-run blast over the center field fence by Chaparral senior Dylan Cozens.
Pride pitcher Jorge Carrazco got behind on the batter and the sight of Cozens waiting for the pitch he wanted was so recognizable that members of the Firebirds cheering section even called the homer right before it happened.
Carrazco pitched three innings in relief of starter Zach Cordova, who both had trouble containing Chaparral’s potent lineup. Cordova fooled the Firebirds’ first couple batters with some off-speed pitches, but didn’t make it through the second inning.
“We missed a few spots here and there,” said Buck of his pitchers. “When that happens, good hitting teams become even better. When you get behind guys, they just kind of sit behind certain pitches and, like I said, they become that much better.”
Cordova pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits with three walks and a strikeout, while Carrazco allowed five runs on three hits with two walks and a strikeout.
The Chaparral attack was led by Cozens and fellow senior Eric Brossart, who each hit a home run. Cozens finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and three RBIs, while Brossart went 2-for-3 with a run and three RBIs.
Offensively, Mountain Pointe was unable to string runners together and come up with clutch hits when the opportunities were presented.
“We gave ourselves opportunities, but we couldn’t get that big-base knock when we needed it,” Buck said. “Our guys kept trying give ourselves a chance.”
Sophomore Ernie de la Trinidad capped off some great at-bats by getting on base every time at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk. Senior Sam Kingery went 1-for-3, but came up with one of the team’s only clutch hits, hitting an RBI triple in the second inning to score junior Michael Weaver.
For the Firebirds, junior Dillon Jackson-Bigcrane pitched four innings and allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Senior Chance Adams relieved him for an inning, holding the Pride to no runs and only two hits. He also struck out two.
Chaparral moves on to face the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between No. 7 Desert Mountain and No. 10 Millennium on Thursday at home.
Despite the loss, Buck was proud of his team this season, especially the accomplished seniors. His hope moving into next season is that the younger players have learned enough from them to make their own mark on Mountain Pointe’s program.
“I felt like we had a good idea of what we wanted to try to do,” Buck said. “We just weren’t really able to execute it very well and that’s baseball.”
• Chris Cole is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.