Two teams quite familiar with each other are preparing to face off for the fourth time this season, this one for all the marbles. The Chaparral baseball team defeated Brophy 6-5 in the winner’s bracket semifinals on Thursday, but the Broncos beat Mesquite on Saturday for another shot at the Firebirds. The teams face off on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Glendale Camelback Ranch for the Division I state championship.
Brophy led 5-0 halfway through the semifinal matchup, but Chaparral kept chipping away and eventually rallied for the one-run victory in eight innings. Chaparral hasn’t lost in the postseason, so the pitching staff is rested and everyone should be available. Both teams have potent offenses with several college-bound stars, so this should be a well-played game.
The teams matched up in the regular season on back-to-back days, with Chaparral winning 6-2 on April 20 and Brophy returning the favor with a 4-2 win on April 21.
Chaparral’s offense has been a bit better this season and the team can use all of its pitchers, so the Firebirds are the favorites. Here’s a look at both teams:
Coach: Sam Messina
How they got here: Def. No. 15 Mountain Pointe 12-2 (5 inn.); Def. No. 7 Desert Mountain 3-2; Def. No. 3 Sandra Day O’Connor 3-2; Def. No. 4 Brophy 6-5 (8 inn.)
Players to watch: RF Dylan Cozens; CF Austin Singer; LHP/OF Nick Diamond; RHP Tyger Talley; 1B Dillon Bigcrane; 3B Chance Adams; SS Mike Diamond; OF Jeremy Wolf.
Outlook: Chaparral has moved up from 5A-II, and to nobody’s surprise, has been one of the top teams all year. The Firebirds always competed well against the 5A-I competition during tournaments, but now has faced them in the regular season and postseason, as well. Dylan Cozens leads the state with 18 home runs and is a Player of the Year candidate. The lineup is deep, as the bottom of the order has players that can do damage. Left-hander Nick Diamond and right-hander Tyger Talley have pitched very well all season and may both see the mound in this game. Chaparral was the best program in the state at the 4A level for many years, and continues to excel as it moves its way up classifications. This will be another chance to prove that the Firebirds are the best program in the state, regardless of division.
Coach: Tom Succow
How they got here: Def. No. 20 Desert Vista 13-7; Def. No. 5 Desert Ridge 2-1; Def. No. 8 Hamilton 10-2; lost to No. 2 Chaparral 6-5 (8 inn.); Defeated No. 6 Mesquite 9-3.
Players to watch: 1B/P David Graybill (.452, 11 HR, 22 RBI; 2.90 ERA); OF Chris Beall (.411, 8 HR, 45 RBI); DH Nick Jewett (.414, 4 HR, 23 RBI); 2B Emilio Torrez (.495 OBP, 4 HR); OF/P Ryan Castellani (.253, 7 HR, 2.33 ERA); P Steven Oleksak (3.43 ERA); P Jake Steffens (2.61 ERA); Jeff Clasen, OF (.393, 3 HR, 29 RBI).
Outlook: Brophy blew a five-run lead to Chaparral in the winner’s bracket semifinals, which made it go the hard route to get to the championship game. The Broncos trailed Mesquite by a run with two outs in the sixth inning, but scored seven in that crucial inning to blow the game open and make the title game. Brophy has a pair of big boppers in David Graybill and Chris Beall, and Graybill is also a top pitcher. Emilio Torrez, Jeff Clasen and Nick Jewett can also be tough outs at the plate. Brophy has gotten production throughout its lineup in the postseason, and needs good at-bats from everybody because Chaparral’s pitchers have very good stuff. Three-year starting catcher John Rapisarda is injured and has not played much in the playoffs. Brophy played on Saturday while Chaparral rested, so that is a disadvantage, but the Broncos certainly have the talent to win this game.