Corona del Sol High School pitchers threw Andrew Gulla one too many curveballs.
It took the Chaparral senior seven innings to finally make solid contact and when he did the ball was uncatchable.
Gulla launched a curve thrown by relief pitcher Sean Fitzgerald over the left field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the solo home run gave the host Firebirds a 6-5 victory over the Aztecs on Thursday afternoon.
"They were throwing curveballs to me all day, and I was just missing them,'' Gulla said.
Corona (5-3) had scored three times in the top half of the seventh inning to tie the score, 5-5. Gulla led off the bottom half of the inning and the third pitch thrown by Fitzgerald (0-1) was sent out of Chaparral's park for the walk-off home run, Gulla's first HR of the season.
That's the kind of performance Firebirds coach Jerry Dawson expects from Gulla, a three-year letterman.
"He has to be one of our go-to guys,'' Dawson said.
Behind the pitching of sophomore Ike Davis, Chaparral (8-1) was in cruise control, leading 5-0 after five innings. Being a basketball player for the Firebirds in the winter, Davis was late starting his baseball workouts and Dawson had given the left-hander a 60-pitch limit.
Davis, who had struck out six and allowed only three hits, was replaced at the start of the sixth inning by Greg Abram. He gave up two runs in the inning with Mike Pollak and Eric Gundry getting run-scoring singles for the Aztecs.
"I don't see why Jerry won't be able to win state with Davis,'' Corona coach Ron Davini said.
With Chris Cox on the mound for Chaparral, Ben Rodriguez led off the seventh with a single. One out later, K.C. Kaiser singled, and then Eric Smith walked to load the bases.
Corona catcher Josh Tarnow, one of the top returning players in the East Valley, doubled home two runs to cut the margin to 5-4. Pollak's fielder's choice scored Smith.
Last year, Davis became an effective closer for the Firebirds. In this early season, Dawson is looking for this year's closer.
"We played very well until we made the pitching change,'' Dawson said. "Our pitchers didn't throw strikes. We didn't answer a couple of questions about our closer today.''
Chris Reap was effective as Corona's starter. He only struggled in the fourth inning when the Firebirds scored five runs.
Ryan Weimar and Frank Barry had run-scoring singles during the uprising.