After yet another one-run game Thursday night, Hamilton will play for its fourth baseball state championship.
Kent Hasler and the top-seeded Huskies held off second-seeded Chaparral for a 3-2 victory in the Division I semifinals at Tempe Diablo Stadium and will enjoy four days off before Tuesday's title game.
Hamilton will play either Mesquite or Chaparral, which will meet on Saturday. But their opponent means little right now.
"We're there. We made it to the final game," Hamilton coach Mike Woods said after his team's third one-run win of the playoffs and its sixth in the past eight games. "We hadn't played a lot of them until lately. But one run, 10 runs, who cares? A win is a win."
The Huskies had to overcome an early deficit and Chaparral's Collin Gabel to get that win. Gabel struck out 10, including the first four he faced, only gave up four hits and fought through a collision along the first base line and a comebacker off his leg.
It was after each of those plays, both of which brought out the Chaparral trainer, that Hamilton scored.
Ryan Nolcheff knocked in pinch runner Logan Glover with a double down the left field line to tie the game at 1 in the third.
Nick Brueser gave Hamilton the lead with an RBI single in the fourth and Chandler Reynard followed with a run-scoring groundout for an insurance run. Those were the only two innings a Huskies player reached base.
"I just told our guys: We've seen some really good pitchers and beat some really good kids," Woods said of his team's postseason path.
Woods has one of those pitchers as well, and the senior Hasler shook off a Firebirds run in the first inning to hold Chaparral to six hits. Even with two on in the seventh, no one was warming up in the Hamilton bullpen.
"I catch quite a bit of flack for almost giving my parents a heart attack," said Hasler, who also won Hamilton's postseason opener against Chandler, 3-2. "But on the field it doesn't change anything for me."
The five days off mean Hasler could be available for the title game at Salt River Fields, though junior right-hander Zach Pederson, with an 11-0 record and 2.39 ERA, is the likely starter.
Hamilton's last state championship was in 2008, after the Huskies won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004.
Chaparral played in the last three state championship games. Mesquite, which beat Horizon 6-3 Thursday evening to move within one game of playing for the championship, has never won a baseball tile but took second to Hamilton in 2008.
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