Green Valley’s Casey Hicks knew his team needed a spark entering the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday.
The host Gators trailed Las Vegas by four runs in the Sunrise Region baseball playoffs, and were flirting with their first loss in the double-elimination tournament.
But Green Valley responded with a four-run fifth highlighted by Hicks’ two-run home run and clinched a 7-6 victory when Scott Arn singled home the winning run in the seventh.
“I got my confidence boosted up, and it got us excited,” Hicks said of his game-tying shot to right field, which came on an 0-2 fastball with two outs. “From that point, we just fought and won the game.”
Southeast League champion Green Valley (28-5) will host Northeast champion Rancho (28-3) in a showdown at 4 p.m. on Thursday with a spot in the region finals up for grabs.
“We were chipping away and when he hits a two-run home run to make it 6-6, that sort of got our kids excited,” Gators coach Nick Garritano said. “That was a huge swing in a huge moment.”
Green Valley completed the rally with Arn’s two-out single to deep center field to score Bobby Shiroky in the seventh.
“It was one of those games that wasn’t pretty on our part, but to stay in the winners’ bracket is huge,” Garritano said. “It was a huge win for us.”
Shiroky went 3-for-4 and scored two runs for Green Valley. Hicks, Rudy Strnad and Chad Whiteaker added two hits apiece for the Gators.
Green Valley will start senior right-hander Nolan Kohorst against Rancho junior southpaw Zak Qualls.
“We’ve got a big situation (against Rancho),” Garritano said. “If you can get to 3-0 in this thing, you force someone to beat you twice. We’re looking forward to it.”
Quinnton Mack was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs for Las Vegas (23-9), which will host Coronado (16-8-2) in an elimination game at 4 p.m.
Rancho 3, Foothill 2 — At Green Valley, Eric Holdren singled home Josh Gomez for the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift the Rams to the victory.
Scott Koenen and Gomez combined on a three-hitter for Rancho.
“(Koenen) pitched a great game for us,” Rams coach Tom Pletsch said. “We asked him to give us three (innings), he got us into the fifth and Gomez closed it. Those guys have pitched in big innings for us this year, but none bigger than today.”
Koenen pitched 4 2/3 solid innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Brandon Pletsch belted a solo home run to left field for a 2-2 tie in the third inning.
“We needed a little spark,” Tom Pletsch said. “We had a couple innings where we got some people on but couldn’t score, and when Brandon hit that pitch out of the yard, it got us going.”
Holdren was 2-for-3 for Rancho.
Foothill’s Jordan Stewart hit a two-run homer in the first inning — his third in two playoff games. The Falcons (24-6) will meet Silverado (21-10) on Thursday in an elimination game at 1 p.m. at Las Vegas High.
Coronado 15, Valley 3 — At Las Vegas, Coronado roared back from its Tuesday loss to Rancho by pounding two Valley pitchers for 13 hits in five innings.
Coronado cousins Taylor and Cody Giordano led the Cougars’ attack with one home run each. Both came in a seven-run fourth inning, with Taylor Giordano hitting a three-run blast and Cody Giordano adding a solo shot.
Matt Hall drove in four runs on a three-hit afternoon, including a two-run triple. Miles Bice also had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and added three RBIs for Coronado.
Hall and Trenton Gibson combined to yield five Viking hits. Hansel Escamilla drove in two of the three runs for Valley (14-15).
Silverado 11, Chaparral 1 — At Las Vegas, the Skyhawks hit four home runs to end the Cowboys’ season.
Morgan Stotts, Michael Meyers, Drew Robinson and A.J. Ford all homered for the Skyhawks, who used a six-run second to put away the Cowboys.
Chaparral took an early lead on Elliot Aleman’s solo homer in the top of the second. But the game belonged to Silverado, which got a four-RBI day from Meyers, and three hits each from Robinson and Stotts.
The first five hitters in Silverado’s order — Meyers, Robinson, Bobby Johnson, Stotts and Ford — were a combined 10-for-15.
Stotts did the rest on the mound, holding Chaparral (14-14) to four hits while striking out five.