High school baseball: Back-and-forth title game won by Desert Christian

2013-05-12T00:00:00Z High school baseball: Back-and-forth title game won by Desert ChristianKyle Johnson Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

PHOENIX - For Desert Christian starting pitcher Andrew Edwards, it was a day to forget. The night, though, is something he and the rest of the Eagles will always remember.

Fourth-seeded Desert Christian overcame a sloppy start by Edwards to beat No. 3 Phoenix Christian 11-9 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to capture the Division IV state championship, the first baseball title in the school's history.

"Our coach was saying that if we won, it'd be the greatest moment of our young lives," Edwards said. "And I can guarantee you that it is. It's the greatest moment of my young life."

It was the Eagles' first appearance in a state final since back-to-back trips in 1994 and 1995. Although the school finally got the result it was hoping for, Phoenix Christian made the Eagles work for it in a title fight deserving of its name.

The two teams traded shots throughout the entire game until the Eagles broke it open in the sixth inning thanks to poor fielding by the Cougars - a dropped fly ball and two botched grounders - that resulted in four unearned runs.

All season long Edwards had been a reliable force on the mound, but the sophomore could not find the strike zone Saturday. He opened the game with three straight walks and allowed 14 men to reach base in his four innings of work.

But Desert Christian's offense offered just enough to give the Eagles the state championship. Phoenix Christian's five errors and the erratic Cougars pitching didn't hurt, either.

"Every inning was a battle," said right fielder Ryan Phillips who had three RBIs and scored two runs. The offense "was coming in here trying to get the team fired up, and we were just trying to swing it as hard as we can."

Phoenix Christian landed the first blow when senior pitcher Paul Vinke lined the ball through the left side of the infield to score center fielder Nick Graham in the bottom of the first inning.

As was the theme all night, the Eagles answered. In the top of the second, freshman Jesse Schwartz drove in Phillips with a line drive to center field to knot the game at one.

Every time a team would score, the opposition responded with at least a run in the following inning. The innings were just a little bit bigger for Desert Christian.

As good as the offense was for both sides (the teams combined for 17 hits) it was pitching that finally won the game.

Relief pitcher Zach Malis put the Cougars down in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory, including a swinging strikeout on a 3-2 count to end the game.

"Malis coming in after pitching yesterday and then coming back and pitching three more innings today - that's a valiant effort," Desert Christian coach Grant Hopkins said. "That is a valiant effort by that guy, and I'm so proud of him and his work."

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