Glendale Deer Valley’s baseball team can be referred to as the “comeback kids.’’
Coach Barry Cromer said that in about nine of his team’s 12 victories, the Skyhawks spotted opponents an early lead and then came back to win.
The latest came on Monday (March 31) at Glendale Cactus, when Deer Valley overcame an early deficit with a three-run fifth inning and then held on for a 4-3 victory.
Deer Valley raised its record to 12-8, while Cactus slipped to 12-7.
“I know it might seem ridiculous, but it’s OK if we get down a little early,’’ Cromer said. “We know if we compete and concentrate, good things will happen.’’
Things began to fall into place for the Skyhawks with one out in the fifth.
Emilio Torres hit a ground ball to the Cactus second baseman, who lost his footing and fell while fielding the ball, allowing Torres to reach first base safely.
The next batter, Jon Collins, was hit by a pitch. Grant Lung then drove Torres home with a base hit to center field. Collins later scored on a wild pitch and Lung went to third. After a groundout and a walk, Vincent Dempsey got an infield hit to third base as Lung scored for a 4-2 Deer Valley lead.
Cactus pulled to within 4-3 with a run in the sixth as Jax Pokuta scored on a single to right by Garrett Skillings.
Deer Valley got a key defensive sequence to escape trouble in the bottom of the sixth. With runners at first and second and one out for Cactus, Ty Krauss hit a ground ball to third where Lung stepped on the bag to get the lead runner and then threw to first to get Krauss.
“That was a big play for us. You couldn’t have drawn it up any better,’’ Cromer said.
Deer Valley starter Zack Novotny continued to push on into the seventh. The junior right-hander retired the first two men easily, then issued a walk and then gave up a base hit.
With the tying run at second and the possible winning run at first, Novotny got the final out when the Cactus hitter hit a pitch straight up the chimney over the plate, where the ball came back down and settled into the glove of catcher Dustin Higgins.
Novotny scattered 10 hits in a gritty effort, and Cactus pitcher Avery Sprague had some strong moments.
“Novotny has been good for us all year,’’ Cromer said. “As a sophomore, he had an arm issue but came back and has been nails.’’
Cromer said his team’s goal is to accumulate as many wins to allow its participation in the state tournament.