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Knights ready for late season push
Submitted by Shane McOwen on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 12:00am
Westview baseball threw its hat back into the ring for the region title chase with three straight victories over 6A Southwest foes April 4-7.
The Knights swept district rival La Joya, winning 10-7 April 4 and 4-2 April 6, and scored four runs in the seventh inning to walk-off Surprise Valley Vista, 5-4. Westview moved to 3-2 in region play, one game behind Valley Vista and two behind Millennium.
The three victories came after a 2-7 stretch to open power-points games, dating back to March 3. The Knights scored more than twice as many runs in the two victories (21) than they did in the seven defeats (10).
The final losses over that period were against Tolleson, the opening two games in region play. Westview lost both by narrow margins, 5-2 March 30 and 6-4 March 31.
“Two tough losses to Tolleson. It's one of those where we made errors at the wrong time and they capitalized on them,” Westview coach John Irish said. “The first game we lost by three and the second by two, and we gave up three unearned runs in each game, all in one inning.”
The Knights bounced back with a sweep over La Joya, but had to withstand late-inning comebacks in both games from the Lobos. Westview led 10-2 in the first game before La Joya scored five in the seventh, and led 4-0 in the second before the Lobos added a pair of runs in the final frame.
“We finished today [against La Joya], but we need to be a little more mature to get through those yip innings, where things go a little sideways and you can feel the sense, that looking around, [we're asking] 'Are the wheels coming off?'” Irish said. “We just have to stay with it, stay on track.”
Westview's offense blew up for 10 runs in the first game, led by Fabian Chavez. The junior, playing in his first game of the season, went 3 for 3 with a double and two home runs, knocking in five.
The Knights took a different approach in the second game, beating the Lobos with defense and pitching. Senior Ramon Vega pitched a complete game, surrendering only two runs in the seventh inning, one earned. He struck out three and walked one, and held the Lobos to eight hits.
“Ramon pitched a really good game,” Irish said. “He got ahead in the count. In that last inning, they made some adjustments. He'd been getting ahead on fastballs and they'd been taking them. The guys who got the two big doubles jumped on first-pitch fastballs and drove it. It's one of those games of adjustments, [but] he was able [to close it out].”
Westview trailed 4-1 against Valley Vista after three innings, but was able to score four in the bottom of the seventh to extend its win streak to three games. The Knights chased Valley Vista starter Anthony Chelini in the seventh, and tagged Lorenzo Garcia for two more to secure the win.
Westview's Xzavier Lindsey went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored, and sophomore Lucas Deen went 1 for 4 with 4 RBIs.
Irish said the final stretch of games have become very important because of the early power-points struggles the team faced.
“Realistically, we have five tough games, and we have to get a few out of them,” Irish said. “The only [power-points] games we won in our first eight were against teams ranked below us. Even if we would have swept the Tolleson series, I don't know if that would have got us in.”
The Knights can still earn an automatic playoff berth by finishing first in the region. The way the schedule is lined up will give Westview a shot to do just that. The Knights still have three games against the two teams ahead of them in the standings, and only trail region-leading Millennium by two games.
“We're not that far away,” Irish said. “It's been a very good season, and our kids are playing well. We've done a lot of really good things, [but] it's kind of a double-edged sword. We've been playing well so we're passing expectations, and now gaining new ones, and we're just not there [yet].”
The Knights finished their series with Valley Vista April 11. The result was not available at press time. Westview hosts Phoenix Mountain Pointe at 3:45 p.m. today for its last freedom game of the season, and then in on the road to play Millennium at 4 p.m. Thursday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Shane McOwen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ShaneMcOwen.
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