Two months ago, Steven Oleksak was playing on the junior varsity.
On Tuesday night, Brophy’s sophomore left-hander was starting a postseason game against the top-seeded team in the state. If he was nervous, he handled it well.
Oleksak scattered seven hits and gave up only a pair of runs in four-plus innings to keep the Broncos in it, and the offense put up four runs in the final two innings to upset No. 1 Mesquite 5-3 in the second round of the 5A Division I tournament at Glendale Camelback Stadium.
Mesquite continually threatened, but a pair of double plays early helped keep them at bay as Oleksak wiggled out of jams.
“He doesn’t get flustered out there,” Brophy coach Tom Succow said. “He doesn’t have outstanding stuff right now, but he has great composure. And that’s more important.”
Zach Davies finally got to Oleksak, hitting a two-run homer to left field in the top of the fifth inning for a 2-1 lead. The Wildcats had runners on second and third with one out as they looked to add on, but Nick Rosales grounded out to second base and Jake Howard flew out to right field.
Dan Winkler tied the game up in the top of the sixth with an RBI double, and John Rapisarda put the Broncos ahead with a run-scoring single in the top of the seventh. Winkler added another two-run single for a pair of insurance runs, which turned out to be crucial, because the Wildcats got one back in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“This feels great,” Rapisarda said. “It’s a huge win for us.”
Mesquite out-hit Brophy 10-8, but left eight runners on base.
“We had our opportunities,” Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said.
Arguable Brophy’s two top hitters, leadoff man Joe Maggi and cleanup hitter David Graybill, combined to go 0-for-7 and are still hitless in the tournament. But the Broncos are 2-0 heading into a Saturday matchup against No. 4 seed Hamilton in the winner’s bracket.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” Succow said.
Mesquite drops down to the loser’s bracket and will face off with No. 12 seed Highland on Thursday. The Wildcats have not lost back-to-back games this season.
“We’re not out of it yet,” Holland said. “It’s do-or-die on Thursday, and it’s going to be do-or-die from here on out.”