Monsoon ace seals play in upset with his bat

Valley Vista junior second baseman Damian Nunez stands in the box during Wednesday's 6A baseball play-in game against Mesa Skyline. [Jeff Eddington/For West Valley Preps]

Valley Vista junior second baseman Damian Nunez stands in the box during Wednesday’s 6A baseball play-in game against Mesa Skyline. [Jeff Eddington/For West Valley Preps]
Jeff Edgington
For West Valley Preps

Tyler Smith didn’t quite have his A material on the mound but the Cal-State Fullerton signee found another way to lead Valley Vista to a postseason upset of Mesa Skyline.

The senior was replaced by fellow senior Dylan Chellini with one out in the bottom of the due to pitch-count rules. That came after Chellini saved the Monsoon season on a two-out RBI single in the top half of the inning.

Minutes later Smith delivered in the top of the eighth taking Coyote Bobby Meza’s pitch deep to left field. The solo shot proved to be the difference in a comeback 6-5 victory for No. 22 Valley Vista against No. 11 Skyline in Wednesday night’s play in game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa.

The No. 22 seed Valley Vista baseball team celebrates Wednesday’s play in upset win against No. 11 Mesa Skyline in extra innings with a team photo at Hohokam Stadium [Jeff Eddington/For West Valley Preps]
What’s more improbable than a No. 22 over a No. 11 was the grind it out approach trailing 5-3 and down the thier final strike — as well as the number of runs scored with the pitching matchup of Smith against ASU-bound Boyd Vander Kooi.

Monsoon Coach Ernesto Ortiz remained poised and kept the faith in the dugout. Even with a disheartening sixth that saw Meza strike out the side in relief.

“It wasn’t looking ideal. We knew we had to battle. Once we got that initial guy on base we had to be aggressive. It worked out,” said Ortiz.

Even after Jan Rollon, the Skyline centerfielder, threw a dart to the catcher for an 8-2 put-out to prevent the tying run, Valley Vista (20-11 overall, 12-6 regular season)  went for broke.

It was looking dark and gloomy. Fitting for the Monsoon. But Chelini delivered a season saving double.

“We had a brief meeting as we came in their in the seventh. Credit to Schoen with the discipline to draw a walk. Brandon (Morris) and Dylan (Chelini) kept it alive with huge doubles,” said Smith.

Ottawa University Arizona signee Chelini also got the final five outs to earn the win.

Smith finished two for five including the RBI which he will recall for a lifetime. He threw 6 and 1/3 striking out seven and allowing four earned runs.

Vander Kooi and Smith each allowed uncharacteristic runs off of a few sacrifice outs even one for Skyline (20-8-1, 14-4)  on a wild-pitch.

The errant throw on a strike three call had the Coyotes up 3-2. The visitor kept fighting. They rallied from three separate deficits.

Valley Vista led off five of their eight innings off with a runner. The Monsoon plated one run in the second, third, and fourth. Even though they weren’t crooked numbers it was something.

“Against a great pitcher we had some chances,” added Ortiz with a grin.

Morris had just one hit but it was an RBI to stir the pot in the seventh. That double made it 5-4 for a split second could’ve tied it.

The Monsoon advance to the double-elimination 16 team bracket. They’ll learn their fate Thursday afternoon on the AIA Bracket-show. It appears, as the lowest remaining seed, a trek back to the Southeast Valley is in order against presumptive No. 1 Chandler Basha.


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