Corona del Sol got a boost Wednesday afternoon from a pair of players who have battled injuries several times to make their way back to the field.
Infielder Damon DeVirgilio stroked three hits, including the game-winning, two-run homer as Corona del Sol rallied twice from behind to post a 5-4 victory over Chandler High in a Division I game at Corona del Sol.
DeVirgilio, a junior, seemed quite comfortable at the plate. He slapped a pair of singles in his first two-at bats, the second wa two-run single that capped Corona's first rally from 3-0 down to tie in the bottom on the third. The next time up with a teammate on third and two out in the fifth, DeVirgilio launched the first pitch he saw from Chandler starter Kurtis Knoche over the fence in right field to erase a 4-3 deficit.
“Damon's battled back from a couple of injuries,” Corona del Sol coach Dave Webb said. “He transferred from McClintock as a freshman and missed the season because of a severe concussion he suffered playing quarterback. Last year he missed all of the fall because he fractured two vertebrae in his back taking a swing at a hitting camp. We brought him up to the varsity last year, but we were senior heavy in the middle infield. He gave us a boost offensively today,”
DeVirgilio saw only five pitches in his three at-bats, but every hit was solidly struck. He finished with four RBI to help Corona to its fourth win in five games and a win in its initial power-ranking game. DeVirgilio's homer was the first this season by a Corona player.
“We're a small-ball team, play West Coast baseball,” Webb said. “We're not going to hit many homers.”
Corona's starting pitcher, senior lefty Garrett Poole, tossed 4 1/3 strong innings, but did not get the win. He allowed five hits and three walks in his stint and fanned four. Having Poole pitching early on this season has been easy on the eyes of Webb.
“Garrett's been injured two years and to have him out there is a boost for us,” Webb said. “He was running out of gas when we took him out, but it's great to have him healthy.”
Picking up for Poole in relief and earning the victory was junior right-hander Matt Asta. Asta tossed 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit and striking out three.
“I told our pitching coach he's the guy I wanted out there,” Webb said. “We call him Matty Ice. He's tought and he wants the ball.”
Chandler dropped to 3-2 on the year and also was playing its first power-ranking game of 2014. The Wolves, under new coach David Lopez, played a solid game and looked sharp defensively with a pair diving stops by third baseman Danny Vasquez likely taking away two hits. A first-inning double play turned by the middle infield bailed Knoche out of a jam. Knoche, who unlike Poole began the game getting behind hitters, was given a passing grade for his effort by Lopez.
“I told our team this one's on me,” Lopez said, perhaps leaving Knoche in one hitter too long. “He didn't have his A-plus stuff today, but he gave us a chance and kept us in the game. The key to our success is going to be good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. My hats off to Corona. They got the timely hits.”
Thomas Fritz led Chandler with two hits and drove in one run along with teammates Riley Collier and Tony Sepulveda.