With six games left in its Northeast League baseball season, Chaparral found itself two games out of the fourth place and in danger of not qualifying for the Sunrise Region tournament.
With five innings left in their play-in game, the Cowboys found themselves two runs down to Eldorado and in danger of having their season end Saturday.
Both times, Chaparral was right where it wanted to be.
Keyed by a third-inning bunt by Mark Faranda, Chaparral rallied to beat the Sundevils 4-2 at Las Vegas High, capping an impressive end-of-season run and sending the Cowboys to the postseason.
“I just told the boys we needed to take this game by game as we went along,” said Chaparral coach Todd Faranda, whose squad has won five of its last seven against Northeast opponents. “We just had to keep chipping away. These guys don’t quit.”
Hitless and trailing 2-0 in the third, the Cowboys (14-12) had a runner at first with one out when Mark Faranda bunted down the third-base line. The ball was bobbled by Eldorado’s third baseman, who couldn’t make a play. With no one covering third base, Robert Evans raced from first to third.
As the Sundevils (11-19) tried to regroup, Faranda moved to second. A sacrifice fly by Raul Jimenez and a two-out single by Jordan January tied the game and gave Chaparral all the momentum.
“We felt unstoppable at that point,” January said.
Chaparral cashed in again in the fourth, scoring on a two-out ground ball when instead of throwing to first base, Eldorado tried to trap another runner in a rundown as Garrett Munoz crossed the plate to give Chaparral a 3-2 lead.
Evans and January took care of the rest. Evans, who beat the Sundevils in a five-inning game Wednesday, allowed three hits in six innings. January pitched the seventh and escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting a strikeout and forceout.
“We just had to get tough in that situation,” January said. “This is our time now.”
Ciros Burdier belted a solo homer in the sixth for the Cowboys, who visit Southeast League champion Green Valley to begin the playoffs Tuesday.