5/7/2014 9:41:00 AM Cougars in state baseball's Sweet 16, game Friday
Courtesy Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Chino Valley’s R.J. Bell rounds third base and heads for home plate at an April 24 game. Bell will help lead the Cougars through this week’s state playoffs.
Special to the Review
Saturday night produced a classic pitchers' duel at Surprise Stadium in the first round of the AIA Division 4 state baseball tournament.
That's when Chino Valley pitchers Brandon Redfern and R.J. Bell guided the No. 9 Cougars to a 1-0 win in a marathon 11 innings over No. 24 Lakeside Blue Ridge.
Behind a strong infield defense led by second baseman Cole Moreland, Redfern was able to throw a whopping 10 innings. Redfern allowed only four hits while notching seven strikeouts and issuing one walk on 107 pitches for the victory. Bell came on in relief in the top of the 11th, fanning three on nine straight pitches for the save.
Facing a relief pitcher in the bottom of the 11th after Blue Ridge's starter went 10-1/3 innings on an astounding 161 pitches, the Cougars' Ben Potts drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring pinch runner Israel Acosta for the walk-off win.
"Honestly, there's not a whole lot of things to say about that game," Chino coach Marty Campitelli said. "It was kind of one of those ugly wins. Brandon was the big story, pitching 10 innings of shutout baseball. He just dominated."
In Chino's half of the 11th, Redfern led off with a single before Corey Delbridge and Moreland walked to load the bases. A third straight free pass to Potts brought Acosta - a JV call-up who pinch ran for Redfern - to home plate.
"We had seven hits and six walks, but we just couldn't get anything going," Campitelli said. "It was really spread out. And they played really good defense."
It won't get any easier. Chino moves on to the second round for a showdown against dreaded No.8-seed Fountain Hills - the defending D-3 champions who eliminated the Cougars in last year's state semifinals. That game will be at 4 p.m. Friday at Surprise Stadium's Field No. 3.
CVHS gained a measure of revenge on Fountain Hills this past Wednesday, however, shutting out the Falcons, 3-0, in its 2014 season finale on the road to clinch the D-3, Section 4 title.
The winner of Chino Valley-Fountain Hills will face the victor of the No. 16 Scottsdale Christian-No. 1 Bisbee game in the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday on the same field.
Against Fountain Hills, Campitelli will send the equally dominant Bell to the mound as his starter.
"If we play like we did (Saturday), I'm kind of nervous," Campitelli said. "But I think the guys really got themselves up for that (last) game (against Fountain Hills) because it was the game to win the section. And, of course, Fountain Hills knocked us out last year in the Final Four, so it was personal."