Two coaches in their first seasons with new teams. Both trying to earn playoff berths. One is in, the other is hanging in the hunt on the outside looking in after Monday's clash between Chandler High and Skyline.
Chandler jumped to a 4-0 lead after two innings and played hard to get the rest of the way in dealing Skyline a 7-2 loss in a Division I baseball game at Chandler High.
Juniors Hayden Durkiewicz and Tony Sepulveda combined to limit Skyline to six hits. Durkiewicz, a left-hander, allowed both runs in 5 1/3 innings. Sepulveda entered in the sixth with the bases loaded and gave up one hit and no runs in his 1 2/3 innings of work.
Sepulveda added two hits and two RBI (one each in the second an sixth). Durkiewicz reached base three times and scored three runs. Chandler has won seven of its last 11 games, knocking off the likes of Mountain Pointe, Desert Vista and Mesquite recently. The Wolves don't overwhelm when they win.
"Our kids have just gone out and competed," Lopez said. "We have no 90-mile-per-hour arms. We've given ourselves a chance most games. It's usually good defense and today we had timely hitting. We're a good, scrappy team."
Durkiewicz seemed to pitch comfortably after his teammates tacked on three runs in the second to give him a 4-0 lead. The big hit in the second was Riley Collier's two-run double to right. Chandler turned a 6-4-3 double play in the second and catcher Danny Vasquez threw out two runners trying to steal or move up on low pitches in the fourth inning in support of Durkiewicz's pitching.
Durkiewicz issued three walks in the sixth and gave up a run before Sepulveda took over. Sepulveda allowed a single but cut the rally short getting a strikeout and fly out. He tossed a 1-2-3 seventh.
Chandler improved to 17-9 overall and 9-8 in power ranking games. The Wolves, who were 10-16 last year, began the day at No. 20 and should have a playoff berth secured. Skyline (13-14, 9-8) has made a massive turnaround from last year when it posted a 3-25 mark. However, the Coyotes have dropp six of their last seven games and must win Wednesday at Mesa Mountain View to have any chance at fnishing in the top 24.
Chandler, led by former Globe coach David Lopez and Skyline by former Desert Ridge coach Pat Herrera, are improved this year. Lopez won a state title at Globe and Herrera two at Desert Ridge. The programs they took over this year have not qualified for the state tournament since 2009. Chandler reached the D-I (5A-I field) that year and Skyline advanced to the D-II (5A-II) bracket in 2009.
Chandler has one game remaining against Dobson on Wednesday (April 30). The Wolves still have a shot depending on how other teams perform the next two days of reaching the No. 16 spot or a bit better and hosting a first-round state game on Saturday (May 3).