Division I baseball state championship game
Who: No. 1 Desert Mountain vs. No. 10 Chaparral
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tempe Diablo Stadium (2200 W Alameda Dr, Tempe)
Records: Desert Mountain 30-4; Chaparral 23-13.
Previous meetings: March 19 — Chaparral 8, Desert Mountain 7; March 28 — Desert Mountain 3, Chaparral 2.
Outlook: While it’s been a topsy-turvy tournament around them, the Wolves entered the Division I tournament as the favorite and have lived up to the billing. There have been a couple close calls, but Desert Mountain is undefeated in the playoffs and can secure its first state title with a victory. The Wolves will send ace right-hander Cody Erickson (6-1, 1.40 ERA) to the mound, which is the benefit of advancing from the winners’ bracket and having several days of rest. The lineup is stacked, especially at the top, with David Greer (team-best .557 OBP), Erickson (.337, 8 HR, 41 RBI) and Ben Rodriguez (.404, 8 HR, 28 RBI) the heart of a talented offense. Desert Mountain assumed the title of the state’s best team about midway through the year and is one win away from making it come true. Chaparral is a two-time defending state champion, but the decided underdog in this one. The Firebirds needed rallies in the single-elimination state tournament games just to make the quarterfinals, and have continuously found ways to stay alive despite late deficits. Dillon Bigcrane-Jackson is the team’s top hitter, batting .427 with seven homers and 24 RBIs on the year. Chris Nimtz has been a sparkplug at the top of the order, getting on base at a .508 clip. The teams have split a pair of meetings this season and have long been two of the most successful programs in the state. While the Firebirds are the defending champions and arguably the best baseball program in the state, this championship is Desert Mountain’s to lose.