There may be a statistical, hard-numbers reason for why No. 10 Scottsdale Chaparral keeps winning games in the state tournament.
There may be a common denominator between an 18-16 win over No. 7 Goodyear Millennium in the second round last week, or a 1-0 escape from No. 4 Phoenix Pinnacle on Tuesday, both elimination games.
But Chaparral coach Sam Messina opts for an old-school notion to explain those victories, including his team’s 6-5, come-from-behind win over No. 14 Phoenix Mountain Pointe in an elimination game Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“They flat out have a great will to win,” Messina said. “They compete. You can’t describe that, you can’t understand it.”
Chaparral (22-13), the defending champ, is now two wins away from claiming its third consecutive state title. It will face No. 2 Tucson at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Mountain Pointe (23-9) entered the bottom of the sixth leading 5-3, but Chaparral scored three runs to take a 6-5 lead, going ahead for good on Collin Gabel’s two-out single to left field.
Gabel finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs after not starting the game for undisclosed reasons.
“It felt good,” Gabel said. “The first couple at-bats, he started me off with a couple curveballs. I obviously adjusted and got a few hits.”
Mountain Pointe pitcher Jorge Carrazco had kept Chaparral off the scoreboard in the previous three innings, but started to get hit the fourth time around the lineup.
Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck never considered removing his ace.
“You can’t take that guy out,” Buck said.
“He’s doing a tremendous job out there.”
Most of Chaparral’s damage came with a strong assist from a suddenly shaky Mountain Pointe defense.
Mountain Pointe committed three errors — its first in two to three weeks, Buck said — leading to four unearned runs.
A series of five Chaparral pitchers gave up eight hits, but Mountain Pointe routinely camp up short in key situations. Mountain Pointe stranded a total of nine runners, including five in scoring position.
“You never do it 100 percent of the time,” Buck said of hitting with runners in scoring position. “Obviously, you’d like to do that. I felt like we kind of had them on the ropes a couple times, but hey, they fought back.”
Michael Weaver led Mountain Pointe, going 3 for 3 with two doubles, a triple and 3 RBIs.