High school baseball teams often rely heavily on the middle of the batting order to do damage.
On Saturday, it was the bottom of the order that came through for Foothill in the Class 4A state championship game at the College of Southern Nevada.
No. 9 hitter Thayne Watson’s sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the sixth brought home Landon Angelo to break a tie and lift the Falcons to a 3-2 win over Shadow Ridge for the school’s first state baseball title.
“It just shows how deep we are,” No. 3 hitter Quinten Terrell said. “We’ve got guys eight and nine coming through and getting hits against a guy throwing 90 (mph) on the mound. We are just so deep this year. It’s crazy.”
The run in the sixth was enough to support an outstanding pitching performance for the Falcons (28-6). Starter Treysen Smith allowed two unearned runs in six innings to get the win. He struck out four with no walks.
Fellow senior Kaden Straily came on to get final three outs to end the game and get a save.
“From the top to the bottom of the order, everybody’s special,” Smith said. “There’s so many unique things about every single one of our guys, it just makes us great.”
Smith was able to pitch out of trouble with a little help from his defense. He got inning-ending double plays in the first, third and fourth innings to help keep the Mustangs (28-7) off the board.
The Falcons started three sophomores on the infield with Angelo at short, Watson at second and Matt Szymarek at third. All three had a hand in the key double plays.
“Those guys made some fantastic plays, those double plays,” Foothill coach Matt Iglitz said. “You can feel the momentum swing when things like that happen.”
Foothill got on the board first when Andrew Durham hit a one-out double and scored on a two-out double by Terrell in the third. They added an unearned run in the fourth on a throwing error.
The Mustangs, who won the 4A state title last year, tied the game in the sixth on a two-run single by Christian Wilkes.
Then came the key at-bats by the bottom three hitters in the order against hard-throwing reliever Dylan Franco. Angelo was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to second on a balk. Koa Sibal singled through the left side to put runners on the corners, and Watson came through with the go-ahead sacrifice fly.
Straily yielded a leadoff walk before retiring the next three batters. And when right fielder Joshua Vaughn snared a fly ball off the bat of Shadow Ridge star Ty Silva, the celebration began.
“It’s the moment you kind of dream of,” Straily said. “It’s the moment you think about all season, and only one team gets to do it. And to be the last guy on the mound and getting the last out, it’s a magical season. And it’s a magical moment that I don’t think you could really dream it up any other way.”
— No. 1S Pahrump Valley 3, No. 1N South Tahoe 0: At Virgin Valley, Matt Arrey pitched a three-hitter and went 2-for-4 at the plate to help the Trojans (28-8) beat the Vikings (29-7) for the state championship. South Tahoe forced a decisive game by defeating Pahrump Valley 8-2 earlier Saturday.
— No. 2S Lake Mead 4, No. 1N Yerington 2: At Reno, Cameron LaPres went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and an RBI, and the Eagles (22-5) scored three runs in the sixth to rally past the Lions (22-6-2) for the state championship at UNR’s Peccole Park. Hunter Zierleyn pitched a complete game, scattering five hits while striking out five, for Lake Mead.
— No. 1S Indian Springs 6, No. 2S Pahranagat Valley 5: At Bishop Gorman, after allowing two runs in the top of the seventh, the Thunderbirds (21-4) scored two of their own in the bottom of the inning to earn the state title over the Panthers (21-11).