Arbor View baseball coach Chris Martinez experienced somewhat of an epiphany during his team’s American Legion state tournament game Monday night.
Martinez, who has always preferred the seven-inning format used in regular-season Legion games, suddenly discovered the advantages of the nine-inning configuration used in the playoffs.
After struggling at the plate for the first seven innings, the eighth-seeded Aggies (18-17) erupted for eight runs in the eighth and went on to beat No. 4 Green Valley 9-3 in an elimination game at Wilson Stadium.
The win lifted Arbor View into Wednesday’s 5 p.m. losers’ bracket semifinal.
“It’s a tough format to use here at the end of the year,” said Martinez, who noted that the longer games can take a late-season toll on players competing in extreme temperatures. “But tonight, it did help us out a bunch, and we found a way to win it.”
Tyler LeBaron went 3-for-3 with a double to lead the Aggies, though he insisted the win was the result of a complete team effort.
“Everyone does their job on this team,” LeBaron said. “We just all came together and picked it up tonight.”
Arbor View’s Zachary Quintana broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, driving an RBI double off the left-field wall to give his team a 1-0 lead.
But that advantage didn’t last long, as the Gators (17-14) made the most of three hits and a key Aggies error in the bottom of the inning to go ahead, 3-1.
Green Valley starter Nolan Kohorst, who struck out 10 in seven innings of work, settled down and appeared to have the victory in hand as the game progressed.
But Arbor View blew the game open with the help of seven hits and three Green Valley errors in the eighth, sending 14 batters to the plate while chasing Kohorst and Gators reliever Bobby Shiroky to take a 9-3 lead.
Starter Zachary Hartman (6-1) earned the complete-game victory for the Aggies, striking out three and holding Green Valley to one earned run.
Martinez, whose team is making its first appearance in the tourney, said he was not particularly surprised by the rally.
“At the beginning of the season, we set a goal to make it to the state tournament,” the coach said. “Because we knew that anything can happen once you get there.”
BISHOP GORMAN 16, RANCHO 6 — In the late game, the Titans (55-12) fell behind early before cruising past the Rams in seven innings.
Johnny Field went 4-for-5 with a double and four RBIs to lead Gorman, which collected 17 hits while scoring at least one run in every inning.
With the victory, the Titans earned a third-round bye and will rest until playing Rancho or Arbor View on Thursday.
Brandon Pletsch went 3-for-4 to lead Rancho (20-18).