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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
D-I baseball: Desert Mtn. unseats Chaparral for 1st titleMay 14, 2013
Maybe later on in his baseball career David Greer will experience a better moment. But Greer will have a tough time surpassing the one he realized Tuesday night.
The Desert Mountain senior shortstop/closer pitched lights out for two innings in relief and knocked in the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning with his third hit of the game to give the Wolves a 4-3 win over defending champion Chaparral in the Division I championship game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Desert Mountain (31-4) in winning captured its first-ever baseball title since the school opened in 1995. The Wolves had been runner-up twice prior (2010 and 2007) in the old 5A-II. Chaparral (23-14) was bidding for a third consecutive baseball title having won the D-II crown in 2011 and D-I last year on a walkoff home run. Chaparral has won 10 state baseball titles since it opened in the mid-1970s.
"These kids, they deserve this," first-year coach Brian Stephenson said. "We went with Cody to start and had David, too. They were ready to go in their roles like they've done all year. Cody had to battle at times, but did a great job. David was locked in."
Back to Greer's night and his clutch performance. With Chaparral scoring a run in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 3, Greer enterede in his customary role as closer in the seventh, relieiving starter Cody Erickson. Greer, who has signed to play at ASU this fall, faced seven hitters in his two innings of work with one reaching base on a fielding error. Other than that he fanned four of six outs and threw 20 pitches -- 19 for strikes. He touched the low 90s on radar guns.
Greer's dominance got Desert Mountain to the plate in the bottom of the eighth as it tried to solve the brilliant relief work of Chaparral lefty Dillon Bigcrane. Bigcrane had relieved starter Kyle Palmer with two out in the first inning after Palmer surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks.
Bigcrane went on to throw 6 1/3 scoreless innings heading to the fateful last of the eighth. Bigcrane walked designated hitter Mike Salazar to begin the game-winning rally. Salazar was sacrificed to second by Tanner Fraley and Corey Wheaton fanned after fouling off four 2-2 pitches. That brough Greer to bat. In his first four trips he ripped a double, single, deep fly to left and a sharp grounder to first. With first base open, Chaparral coach Sam Messina opted to pitch to Greer.
"It was pick your poison either way, him or Erickson," Messina said.
Greer got a pitch he could handle and slapped it to past first baseman Palmer and in to right to plate with winning run.
"All I was thinking about up there was to make contact," Greer said. "That was the only thing going through my mind."
A hyped up Desert Mountain crowd erupted as he game-winner crossed the plate, many donning T-shirts with the No. 22 in tribute to former Desert Mountain pitching coach Terry Kellen, who passed away just prior to the start of the 2010 season when many of the current Desert Mountain seniors were freshmen. Desert Mountain players lined up prior to the game with a No. 22 jersey on the baseline with them and wore the initials T.K. on their hats. Kellen's No. 22 has been retired by the school.
Erickson hung in despite a tough first, second and sixth. He allowed a run on three hits in the first, but with the help of four hits, one of them his double, Desert Mountain tallied three times and knocked Palmer from the game. Erickson, Jakob Goldfarb and Salazar droved in the runs in the Wolves' half of the inning. Bigcrane entered and got the final out of the first and kept Desert Mountain at bay until the final at-bat of the game. Chaparral cut thelead to 3-2 in the second on an Andrew Shaps single and tied it at 3 in the sixth on Colter Kilgour's single.
"We knew we'd see Bigcrane," Stephenson said. "He's tough as nails, and he was again tonight."