In what could be a lesson to teenagers everywhere, Arbor View’s Brandon Stevens actually listened to a parent.
And it couldn’t have worked out better for Stevens or the Aggies.
Stevens slugged a grand slam with two outs to cap a nine-run seventh inning Thursday as the Aggies rallied for an 11-10 win over Bishop Gorman in the winners’ bracket final of the Sunset Region tournament at Desert Oasis.
“My dad always tells me to swing hard,” Stevens said. “And I did exactly that.”
The Aggies (25-8) advance to the championship round at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Desert Oasis. Palo Verde (12-19) plays Centennial (23-12) at 1 p.m. Friday at Desert Oasis, with the winner of that game facing Gorman (26-3) at 4 p.m. The winner of that game will play Arbor View and would have to beat the Aggies twice to claim the tournament title.
“We’re going crazy right now,” said Stevens, who had just nine regular-season at-bats. “We’re probably going to go crazy tomorrow, too. We’ll be ready.”
Gorman appeared to have the game well in hand after plating three runs in the bottom of the sixth to push its lead to 9-2.
Arbor View coach Jay Guest sent juniors Parker McHale and Stevens to pinch hit to start the inning, and they drew consecutive walks.
“I was actually thinking about what we were going to do tomorrow,” Guest said. “So, I thought we’d give Parker McHale and Brandon a swing at it.”
Both players ended up coming to the plate twice in the inning as the Aggies pulled off the unlikely rally.
Nick Quintana and Ben Cutting each had a two-run single to cut the lead to 9-6. Quinn Gallagher doubled home Ryan McHale to make it 9-7, and the Aggies had runners at second and third with one out.
After Ben Fitzhugh struck out, Parker McHale walked for the second time in the inning to load the bases for Stevens, who lined a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence to give Arbor View the lead.
“It was the most amazing ball I’ve ever hit,” Stevens said. “It felt like the hardest ball I’ve ever hit. It just kept going.”
Arbor View had six hits and took advantage of three walks in the seventh.
“All I did was sit back and watch that last inning,” Guest said. “I didn’t do nothing but put those two kids in.”
Gorman threatened and nearly tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Antonio Rainone singled with one out, and Cadyn Grenier followed with a double to put the tying run in scoring position.
A pitch ticked off the end of the glove of catcher Fitzhugh, but he scrambled after it and fired to reliever Ryan Brown at the plate to get Rainone on a bang-bang play for the second out.
Grenier went to third on the play and scored on a wild pitch, but Brown got Beau Capanna to pop out to the pitcher to end the game.
“We’ve been known for coming back,” Stevens said. “And as long as we stay (together) as a team, we can do whatever we want. We can get there.”
Quintana, Ryan McHale, Cutting and Quinn Gallagher each went 2-for-4 for the Aggies. Sam Pastrone led off the game with a homer for Arbor View, and Ryan McHale homered in the sixth off Gorman starter Alex Perron, who allowed two runs on six hits in six innings.
Grenier was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, and Grant Robbins went 2-for-2 with a double, two runs and two RBIs for Gorman. Austin Cram was 2-for-2 with two runs for the Gaels.
Centennial 6, Desert Oasis 3 — Travis Stevens hit a two-run single to cap a four-run fifth inning that gave the Bulldogs the win over the Diamondbacks.
Desert Oasis led 3-2 after Caeden Marin’s three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. But the Bulldogs answered with four runs in the top of the fifth to pull off the win.
Jared Drizin and Tanner Wright started the inning with back-to-back singles. One out later, Jake Portaro was intentionally walked to load the bases for Stevens, who lined a hit to center to give Centennial the lead.
Frank Sessa and Jake Rogers added RBI singles for the final margin.
Jordon Wyke went the distance for Centennial to get the win. He gave up five hits and didn’t allow an earned run.
Wright was 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Rogers went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and two RBIs for Centennial.
Stevens was 2-for-4 with a double and a run for the Bulldogs.
Dominic Paratore went 2-for-3 for Desert Oasis, which finished 26-9.
Palo Verde 10, Cimarron-Memorial 4 — Cobi Fiechtner was 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs, and the Panthers erupted for six runs in the sixth inning to eliminate the Spartans.
Winning pitcher Sam Powers was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Ryan Merino went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs for Palo Verde, which broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fifth and led 10-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Tyler Giovinco was 2-for-4, and Adam Mitchell drove in two runs for Cimarron (25-8).