Desert Mountain gets clutch hit late to earn its 1st state title

Desert Mountain gets clutch hit late to earn its 1st state title

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Desert Mountain gets clutch hit late to earn its 1st state title

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Scottsdale Desert Mountain senior David Greer was restless all day Tuesday leading up to his team’s showdown against defending state champ Scottsdale Chaparral in the Division I baseball state title game. Several times, he simply had to pace around instead of focus on schoolwork.

“I was getting so antsy,” Greer said. “I told my teachers, ‘I’m really sorry for this, but I can’t sit down.’ ”

That same adrenaline was pumping when he came to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the eighth, and this time he wouldn’t sit down, sneaking a single past a diving Kyle Palmer at first base to score the winning run and give top-ranked Desert Mountain a 4-3 victory and its first ever state title.

Desert Mountain (31-4) entered the season believing it was the best team in the state.

Now, it’s a proven fact.

“We battled, man,” first-year coach Brian Stephenson said right after taking an impromptu water-cooler shower. “We think the best team won tonight.”

Chaparral (23-14) didn’t go down without a fight. The two-time defending state champs had defied the odds all throughout their playoff run, coming from behind to win four of its six state victories and clinching the other two in the seventh inning or later.

This time, Chaparral scraped and clawed its way to tie the game at 3-3 after trailing 3-1 after just an inning.

Chaparral touched up Desert Mountain starter Cody Erickson for nine hits, scoring a run in each of the first, second and sixth innings, the last on Colter Kilgour’s single past short with runners on the corners.

Erickson escaped a bases-loaded jam three batters later, but the momentum seemed to have swung in Chaparral’s favor.

Then Greer took the mound. The senior halted any momentum Chaparral had, throwing two perfect innings with four strikeouts to get Desert Mountain to the bottom of the eighth.

“David came out and shut the door,” senior Michael Salazar said. “It’s what he’s been doing all year.”

Salazar led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk, and pumped his fist in celebration as if he knew he’d score the winning run. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tanner Fraley, after which Corey Wheaton fanned on Strike 3 for the second out.

That brought up the top of the order in Greer, whom Chaparral coach Sam Messina opted to pitch to instead of intentionally walk to get a forceout at three bases. Greer expected as much.

“I was thinking they were going to try and make me swing at a bad pitch, to be honest,” said Greer, who went 3 for 5 with a double.

“I turned to my coach, and I said I just need to look for one right in the zone and swing.”

Greer swung but didn’t get as much as he’d hoped.

The ball shot hotly toward first, and Greer thought he’d grounded out to Palmer for the second straight at-bat. He was happily wrong.

Salazar scored easily from second, and Greer found himself at the bottom of a pile of Desert Mountain jerseys.

Dillon Jackson-Bigcrane took the loss for Chaparral, but was every bit the hero that Greer was for Desert Mountain. Jackson-Bigcrane had thrown two innings of relief as recently as Saturday, but played fireman by pitching 61/3 scoreless innings in relief of Palmer, who didn’t make it out of the first. The game-winning hit was only the fifth Jackson-Bigcrane allowed.

“That kid’s tougher than nails,” Stephenson said. “He’s a competitor.”

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