Chaparral had to fend off Horizon to the last pitch Thursday night.
The Firebirds rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning at Peoria Sports Complex to overcome the Huskies, 8-6, in the Class 5A Division II semifinal decisive game.
“I knew it was going to be a six-hour struggle and battle,” Chaparral coach Sam Messina said. “Horizon has no quit and neither do our kids.”
Chaparral and Horizon had faced off five times in the last 16 days so there were no surprises, especially when the defending-champion Huskies forced the winner-take-all game with an offensive-laden, 18-11 victory in Game 1.
Chaparral will face Perry in the state championship 7 p.m. Saturday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium as the Firebirds try to capture their first title since 2008.
“I thought we battled back pretty good,” Horizon coach Eric Kibler said. “But they came through when they had too.”
After Horizon took a commanding 6-4 lead in Game 2 with a five-run fifth inning, Chaparral answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and four more in the sixth.
The Firebirds' Eric Brossart singled to start the sixth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He scored a batter later when Joey Bielek singled up the middle. Bielek was forced home when Jordie Hein tripled over the center fielder's head on a hanging curve.
With the game tied 6-6, Nick DeRegis popped the ball just inside the right field foul line to put the Firebirds ahead 7-6. A batter later, A.J. Schillinger blasted a triple off the right-field wall and DeRegis trotted home.
“Hitting is contagious,” said DeRegis, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. “When one of us gets a hit all the kids in the lineup behind him follow up.”
Kibler started Luke Messer and the sophomore came through admirably with 4 1/3 solid innings of work while only giving up four runs on eight hits. Messer also helped offensively, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Chaparral also got important contributions from Colby Targun (2-for-4) and Schillinger (3-for-4).