AIA365

Les Willsey
Staff Writer, AIA365.com

Baseball: Corona's one-at-a-time approach tops Desert Vista

Corona del Sol put a trio of of extra-base hits to good use Saturday morning, parlaying all three into runs as the Aztecs toppled Desert Vista, 4-2, in a Division I baseball game at Chase Field.

Corona del Sol (15-10 overall, 10-7 power-ranking games) and Desert Vista (18-9, 10-7) were able to escape the elements (wind and showers) Saturday by playing at Chase with the roof closed in a pre-scheduled game arranged by working with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After spotting Desert Vista a 1-0 lead in the first courtesy of an unearned run driven in by Mike Popeck, Corona tallied single runs in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings to solidfy its hold in the middle of the upcoming 24-team playoff field. Corona entered play Saturday at No. 16. The game was the final one of the regular season for Desert Vista, which now must wait to see if it hangs on to a top-8 spot  in the power-rankings and first-round playoff bye. The Thunder has been in the top eight most of the month. They were No. 6 on Saturday.

Corona managed just six hits, but the final three were for extra bases. Eric Schwalbe had an RBI double in the fourth to break a 1-1 tie. Winning pitcher Nate Chokey tripled with two outs in the sixth and courtesy runner Bryce Barrett scored on a wild pitch a few pitches later. The Aztecs made it 4-1 in the seventh using pinch-hitter Ian Cooper's double and two more wild pitches to cap their scoring.

Chokey, a senior left-hander, scattered seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of work and allowed one run. He was the only Corona player with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3. Reliever Nathan Birecki earned  the save by tight-roping the last of the seventh when Desert Vista loaded the bases with one out. The Thunder settled for one run on sacrifice fly by Zach Hardy. The Thunder had a tough day plating runners in scoring position. They left 11 runners on base -- two each in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh.

Desert Vista lefty Isiah Deutsch took the loss. Deutsch worked five innings, allowed four hits and two runs. Popeck and Keenan Bartlett had two hits apiece to pace Desert Vista.