Defense, particularly the lack of it, turned the tide Monday when 4A Desert Sky Region rivals Scottsdale Chaparral and Tempe McClintock met for the first of three region games this month.
Chaparral had the steadier hands on defense and overcame a slow start to knock off McClintock, 5-2, at Jim Merrick Field.
“We’re just trying to play at an even keel,” Chaparral coach Jerry Dawson said after his team secured a come-from-behind win. “Last week in the (Cleats) tournament we played so well the first game against Salpointe, then poorly the next two games, then five real good innings against Brophy and then poorly the last two innings and next game (Hamilton). I want to see us play at a level where we sustain and maintain.”
Chaparral (13-5, 2-0) trailed 2-0 after three innings, but should have been tied at 0-0. A botched two-out pop-up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third led to McClintock’s runs. That was the only error of the game for the Firebirds, who made all the plays the rest of the way, including a handful of dandy ones by shortstop Jake Schlander.
Chaparral was unorthodox in its pitching plan. Dawson chose to use three pitchers, starting with ace Dan Coulombe (two innings), Cody Yount (the middle three) and Zak Hayden (the final two). Yount got the win, Hayden the save and Coulombe was solid with five strikeouts in his two frames.
McClintock (13-6, 3-1) turned the game Chaparral’s way in the fifth. The Firebirds collected four of their 11 hits that inning, but it was a potential double-play ball that could have ended the inning with McClintock still holding a 2-1 lead that hurt.
Ernesto Ortiz and Tommy White drove in runs in the three-run fifth.