GLENDALE - With one swing of that bat, senior Devin Harrison put Ironwood Ridge one win away from a trip to the Division II state championship game.
The sixth-seeded Night-hawks won their ninth game in a row when Harrison hit a two-run, walk-off shot into the left field bullpen, giving them a 13-3 win over Nogales in five innings on Saturday at Camelback Ranch Stadium.
"It's the first walk-off I've ever hit," Harrison said. "I was walking up to the plate and I had Frank (Ortiz) tell me, 'Hey, hit a home run.' So I guess that's what happened."
Ironwood Ridge will return to the same location Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to face No. 1 Chandler Seton Catholic or No. 5 Phoenix Sunnyslope with a chance to advance to the state final on May 14.
The Nighthawks (26-5) entered the bottom of the fifth inning needing only two runs to end the game early after posting six in the fourth to take a commanding 11-3 lead.
Senior shortstop Jake Matthews got on with a single to right to bring Harrison to the plate with one out and an opportunity to end the game.
Matthews, who was a key player in the football team's run to a state title, said he had a feeling they weren't going to have to take the field again defensively when he was running into the dugout in the middle of the fifth.
"In football we were unselfish and that's what led us to the championship, and I'm just relaying that message to my team," Matthews said. "You can't be selfish if you want a state championship."
Ironwood Ridge only registered eight hits in the win but Nogales walked five batters and hit another three to give the Nighthawks plenty of chances.
Coach Dennis Toia is glad his squad didn't waste those opportunities.
"If we bring our big-boy bats, we can beat anyone," Toia said. "This game was huge because not only are we one win from the state championship but we can get some rest now. Everyone else is going to be using all they have."
The Nighthawks sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth and loaded the bases with no outs. Right fielder Ryan Neter highlighted the big inning with a two-run double to make it 10-3.
Apaches coach Oscar Favela said he was disappointed in his team falling behind 3-0 early with the help of two walks and an error.
"If they come out and hit the ball and you can't get them out, you can't say anything because you got beat by a better team," Favela said. "But when you give them freebies with walks and hit-by-pitches that's tough."
No. 10 Nogales (22-9) dropped to the losers bracket and will face fourth-seeded Sahuaro at Camelback on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Cougars edged No. 8 Yuma Gila Ridge 6-5 in an elimination game on Saturday.
"They're a good ball club," Favela said. "Hopefully we'll get home, rest up and be able to bounce back."
Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at email@example.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13