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5/10/2013 10:06:00 PM
Chino Valley baseball team falls in Final Four
Early deficit proves too much; young Cougars already motivated for next year: 'We don't want to feel it again'
Review/Matt SantosColby Douglas popped up for Friday night’s final out during the Div. 3 state tournament semifinal at Surprise Stadium. The celebration was on for the Fountain Hills Falcons, who won 7-1 to advance to Saturday's state championship game.
Review/Matt Santos
Colby Douglas popped up for Friday night’s final out during the Div. 3 state tournament semifinal at Surprise Stadium. The celebration was on for the Fountain Hills Falcons, who won 7-1 to advance to Saturday's state championship game.
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The Cougars fell to the Falcons of Fountain Hills on Saturday, May 10, 2013. Get 'em next year boys!

Final Four • Friday, May 10

(seeds in parentheses)

(at Surprise Stadium)

(3) Fountain Hills 7, (10) Chino Valley 1

(13) Empire 13, (9) Payson 3

Championship • Saturday, May 11

(at Surprise Stadium)

(3) Fountain Hills vs. (13) Empire, 7 p.m.

Special to the Review

UPDATE: 05/12/2013

Fountain Hills scores two in bottom of seventh to beat Empire and earn Div. III state title at Surprise Stadium Saturday May 11.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A fast start by a hot-hitting club derailed the Chino Valley baseball team's hopes of another state championship.

The Cougars found themselves in an early hole Friday night at Surprise Stadium and couldn't recover in their 7-1 loss to the Fountain Hills Falcons in the AIA Div. 3 state semifinals.

The Falcons advanced to Saturday's state championship game, where they'll face Empire, the bracket's 13-seed, which eliminated Payson 13-3 Friday night in the other semifinal.

The Cougars, the 2010 state champions and winners of 12 straight games coming in, saw their season draw to a close in the Final Four.

"They had a great run. We just didn't finish it," said CVHS head coach Bruce Nesbitt, who also piloted the Cougars to the 2008 state title game.

"But they had a great run, they knocked off 12 in a row. We played probably the toughest opponent that we've seen all year. They were a good, solid hitting team. They hit the ball and they're a big team. They were just better than us tonight."

The Falcons, who had scored a total of 19 runs in their previous two state tournament games to reach the semifinals, broke things open early with three runs in the first inning and four more in the second.

Junior right-hander Branden Redfern took the loss.

"My curveball was breaking. But they wouldn't chase anything out of the zone," he said afterward. "They're a good hitting team."

Nesbitt shook up the lineup, bringing righty RJ Bell on in relief.

"We just couldn't get the breaking ball over in the first two innings for strikes. So we tried 14 different breaking pitches and couldn't get even a called strike on any of them, or even a swinging strike," Nesbitt said. "When you give a good team like that an opportunity to see dead-red fastball, they're gonna take advantage."

The Cougars cooled off the Fountain Hills bats, not allowing a run the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the offense couldn't claw its way back.

Chino collected just six hits on the evening. Senior Colby Douglas went 2-for-2, and junior Jeremiah Moeller had the team's lone RBI.

Bell struck out five, allowed two hits and walked only one over his four shutout innings.

"I just went out there and tried to hit my spots," Bell said. "Fountain Hills is a good hitting team, so you're not going to strike out that many kids. They're going to put the ball in play."

The Cougars, the tournament's 10-seed, finish the year with a 21-9 mark.

The young players on the roster, like Bell, a sophomore, will take the sting of Friday's loss as motivation for next spring.

"Final Four, I mean ... and then you come out here and lose in the semifinals," Bell said. "We're a young team, so all of us are gonna remember this feeling. We don't want to feel it again."

Matt Santos contributed to this report.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Article comment by: Yukon Jack

For a 10th seeded team to make it that far... The boys did great. Looks like they just ran into a team that had it all together Friday afternoon.

"Wait 'til next year!"

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