Talk about a reversal of fortune - and emotion.
On Thursday night, Brophy saw its big lead evaporate into an eventual loss to Chaparral in the Division I baseball tournament's winner's bracket semifinals.
On Saturday night, Brophy's Chris Beall was the eraser.
Trailing Mesquite by three runs early in the loser's bracket state tournament semifinal, the Broncos chipped their way back. Then, after the Broncos scored three runs without a ball leaving the infield, Beall negated the "small ball" when he launched a grand slam over the right field wall in a 9-3 comeback victory at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Broncos get another shot at Chaparral on Tuesday night for the state championship game at 7 p.m. at Camelback Ranch-Glendale Stadium.
Mesquite led 3-0 and still clung to a one-run lead in the sixth when the Wildcat wheels proverbial came off.
After Mesquite starter Tanner Wilson threw six quality innings (two earned runs allowed and a couple big defensive plays behind him), Garrett Jeffries relieved Wilson to open the sixth inning. He got two quick outs, but walked two Broncos, hit another to load the bases, then walked Connor Moore to force in the tying run.
Brophy leadoff hitter David Graybill hit a ball deep in the hole at shortstop that Mesquite's Ozzie Rodriguez made a nice stop, but the throw to first was off the base just enough for Graybill to beat the sweep tag, and the infield hit scored Connor Messman with the go-ahead walk.
Emilio Torrez forced in another run with another walk - the fourth ball called being the third time in the inning Mesquite's dugout animatedly protested the balls and strikes calls.
"We didn't let our guard down, we kept grinding at-bats and taking pitches," Brophy coach Tom Succow said. "That's the type of team we are and program we try to be."
Beall followed, and hit a first-pitch curve ball many yards over the right field wall for the grand slam and a seven-run inning, all with two outs.
"I was thinking fastball because he was throwing hard," Beall said. "Just a mistake (thrown), I guess."
Mesquite coach Jeff Holland was ejected after the sixth inning for the balls-and-strikes arguments.
"It's (expletive)," he said after the game. "You don't squeeze the zone in the final innings of a game like this. Let the kids' bats dictate the game. Brophy's a heck of a team, but it's hard to believe high school hitters have that kind of an eye (at the plate)."
Even before the crazy comeback began, the night began ominously for No. 6 Mesquite when Wildcats' leadoff hitter and shortstop Seth Fretheim fouled a ball off his knee to begin the game. He hit the ground and stayed there in obvious pain for a few minutes, and eventually limped off the field, but didn't return.
Holland said Fretheim was in "a good amount of pain" but that his returning wasn't an option.
"I know he wanted to try and get back in, but I have to look out for his future," Holland said. ".... If I had 12 Seth Fretheim's we'd be good every year."
Still, the Wildcats struck first. The first of Jeffries' two doubles on the night came in the first inning, followed by a wild pitch, a walk to Jake Howard, a passed ball in which Jeffries barely beat the tag at home plate, then an RBI single by Casey Howard and another bang-bang play at the plate gave Mesquite a 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats added another in the third when hits by Brad Holland and Rodriguez bookended a hit batsman to load the bases with nobody out, and a double play grounder scored Holland.
"That's how we've played all year," Holland said. "We pitched well early and defensively we played great. We just didn't get enough hits. We had our chances but didn't get enough big hits."
But Brophy pitchers held Mesquite to eight hits (one in the seventh when the game was in-hand) and no extra base hits outside of Jeffries' doubles. He and Holland were the only Wildcats with multiple hits.
Brophy and Chaparral will meet for the fourth this this year. Chaparral has won two of the first three, all played within the last three weeks.
"We want to take it to them this time," Beall said of the Chaparral rematch. "It's our turn."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.