Phoenix Brophy’s big hitters (No. 2 Matt Newman, No. 3 Tony Strazzara, No. 4 Riccio Torrez and No. 5 Josh Garcia) weigh heavy on the minds of opposing teams.
But forgetting about the rest of the Broncos has proven to be a recipe for defeat after four state tournament games in 2007.
Opportunity knocked again Thursday afternoon for the Broncos’ bottom half. Brophy tallied five times in the bottom of the fourth, paving the way to a 7-4 victory over Chandler in the semifinals of the 5A Division I state baseball tournament at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Brophy (30-3) now has a date (a fourth one this season) with Desert Valley Region rival Scottsdale Horizon for the 5A-I championship. That game is set for 8:07 p.m. Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game, won by Brophy 11-1 in six innings.
Chandler (27-8) entered play Thursday needing to beat Brophy twice to advance to Diablo. The Wolves’ initial effort was promising behind pitcher Landis Ware.
Chandler led 2-0 in the middle of the fourth inning thanks to Ware and Kevin Hennessey producing back-to-back doubles in the first and shortstop Jose Bracamonte blasting a solo homer in the third.
Managing three singles in the first three innings off Ware, Brophy broke through in the fourth without the heavy hitters doing much damage.
Torrez was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Garcia lifted a high, deep fly near the warning track in center. The Wolves’ Sean Lewis camped under it after a long run but dropped it to give the Broncos runners at second and third with no outs.
No. 6 hitter Harlynn Griffiths tied the game with a single to left center.
A walk and strikeout later, catcher Jordan Guida ripped the first of his two hits, a single that put Brophy ahead to stay 3-2.
Newman capped the frame with a two-run double off the center-field wall.
“We took advantage when we had the chance,” Brophy coach Tom Succow said. “Opposing pitchers work so hard to get us at the top of the lineup, I think mentally they fall asleep down at the bottom. The guys at the bottom have continued to produce for us in the tournament.”
Newman, a senior left-hander headed to ASU next fall, pitched five innings and allowed five hits and no walks and struck out three to earn the win.
Matt Chaffee relieved Newman and finished the game.
Chandler closed within 5-3, getting a run in the top of the sixth, but Guida delivered a knockout blow with a two-run homer to left in the bottom of the inning.
“That was my first varsity homer,” a beaming Guida said. “It was a hit-and-run, and I got a curveball. The bottom of our lineup has really helped us in these games.”
Chandler, which won the 5A Fiesta Region title this season, finished 27-8. Every team in the Fiesta (six) qualified for either the 5A-I or 5A-II state tournament.
“We knew beating them was going to be tough,” Chandler coach Jon Watson said.
“They are really good. What we accomplished this season is nothing to be ashamed of.”