Must-win baseball games rarely come in March.
But for a Green Valley team sitting at 1-3 in the Southeast League and tied for sixth place, Thursday’s home game against Coronado certainly had that feel.
The Gators took advantage of two sixth-inning errors to rally for a 4-2 win over the Cougars.
“That was an absolute must-win for us today,” Green Valley coach Corey Gehlken said. “We’ve got to get it going sometime. We’ve proven we can play, we just have to play in the tight ones. Today showed me that we can do it and showed them, more importantly.”
Seven of Green Valley’s eight losses have come by three runs or fewer, so Gehlken was pleased to win a close one.
“It’s a huge win for us,” he said. “We finally won a close game, came together and battled all the way through.”
The Gators (8-8, 2-3 Southeast) trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, but scored three runs after two were out.
Phillip McGovern led off with a single before Coronado starter Chandler Blanchard retired the next two batters. Keaton Smith lined a single to center to score McGovern with the tying run.
Pinch hitter Jack Miller then hit a slow roller to short. Cain Brady charged and threw on the run to first, but his throw was in the dirt and got past first baseman Michael Pollex.
Pollex scrambled after the ball and fired home, but his throw was wild and Smith scored. When his throw ended up in the Green Valley dugout, Miller came home, too.
Green Valley starter Keola Paragas allowed four hits in six innings. He struck out nine, and left after hitting the leadoff man in the top of the seventh.
Reliever Royal Bradley allowed a single to pinch hitter Daniel Ritchie and hit Tyler Brown to load the bases before recording a strikeout and inducing a game-ending double play.
“The biggest thing is just someone coming in to shut the door,” Gehlken said. “Bradley was one of our starters at the beginning of the year, and I had to move him over because he’s a senior and I know he’s got the makeup to come in and throw strikes when we need it and not get rattled. That’s a tough thing to do.”
Paragas carried a no-hitter into the fifth before allowing three straight singles to load the bases. He struck out the next two batters and got an 0-2 count on Brown before hitting him and forcing in the first run.
Dillon Fahr added an RBI single in the inning to give Coronado (11-4, 4-1) a 2-1 lead.