PHOENIX – Opus Field at Brophy High can be a bit of a mirage.
The high green walls give the illusion of a spacious outfield, but there are no distances posted on the walls to keep visitor’s guessing.
That is until the Broncos hit a bunch of no doubters.
Whatever it is down the lines and power allies, it wasn’t enough to contain the Brophy bats on Tuesday as the Broncos blasted Desert Vista pitching on the way to a 13-7 win the in the second round of the Division I state tournament.
There were a total of six home runs hits, the first four by Brophy as the fourth-seeded Broncos built a lead of 11-0 before the Thunder battled back but never really challenged.
“It’s pretty deep in center field and it has decent dimensions,” Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich said. “We got down early, didn’t make good pitches and they hit the ball hard. Our kids fought back like they have all year long and made it interesting.”
The Broncos advance to Thursday’s Elite Eight and the tournament now enters the double-elimination format of the tournament and will face No. 5 Desert Ridge at Camelback Ranch.
Brophy (22-8) plated a run in the second on a RBI double Nick Jewett, but did most of its damage in third against Thunder starter Luke Leftwich (5-4).
The senior right-hander defeated Brophy about a week earlier in what he had considered the biggest game of his career.
This one didn’t go as well as David Graybill tomahawked a homer on a chin-high pitch to start the third and two batters later Chris Beale went deep for a two-run shot and a 4-0 lead.
Tyler Viza relieved and the inning continued as Jewett singled with one out and Connor Messman went yard to push it to 6-0.
“There have been some massive comebacks in baseball lately so those things happen,” Brophy coach Tom Succow said. “I never feel too safe so it was important to keep adding on and those last runs proved to be important.”
Leftwich went 2-plus innings and allowed four earned on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Two of the three walks came just before home runs to compound the damage.
“I was leaving pitches up and missing my spots,” Leftwich said. “It is hard when you don’t perform like you know you can.”
Brophy plated four more runs in the fourth for the commanding lead and the Thunder could have been run-ruled if they didn’t show some life in the top of the fifth.
No problem there as Desert Vista (16-14) did exactly what it has done all year long – battled.
Junior shortstop Colby Woodmanse hit a grand slam as a Brophy error and two walks loaded the bases against Brophy starter Jake Steffens (6-1).
“There is no quit in this team and we knew we had to do something,” senior third baseman Tyler Adams said. “Everyone in that dugout stayed positive and kept encouraging like we always do and we pushed them at the end.”
Steffens did a good job of keep the Thunder offense in check in the early going – allowing just two hits through four innings – but the big lead got the best of him.
“I lost some of my intensity and it hurt me,” said Steffens, who went six innings, allowed four hits, three earned with three walks and four strikeouts. “It’s hard to keep the intensity when you have a big lead and they put together some good at bats.”
The Thunder added a few runs in the seventh as Adams had an RBI double and fellow senior Hunter Rodriguez hit a solo home run.
“I’ve said it before but this has been a fun team to be around,” Luketich said. “They showed great effort and I never had to get on them because they wanted to get better every day and I think we did that.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.