SUNSET REGION: Spring Valley slips past Centennial

As a nonstarter on a varsity baseball team, it can be easy to get distracted or sit and pout all game on the bench.

Spring Valley freshmen Cameron Cole wanted to prove that even though he wasn’t on the field, he was focused and waiting for his chance.

Cole scored the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Grizzlies edged Centennial at home 9-8 in the opening game of the Sunset Region tournament.

Centennial jumped to an early 3-0 lead on back-to-back home runs by Sam Friend and Robby Rosenthal.

Spring Valley coach Paul Bassett felt that Tuesday’s weather conditions made it a favorable day for hitting.

“It was a great day to hit with the wind blowing out,” Bassett said. “They put good swings on good pitches, and I give them credit for jumping out on us.”

Spring Valley wasted no time tying the score 3-3 in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Billy Bob Ward, Aaron Blair and Ryan Hendershot.

Friend earned a walk with the bases loaded to make it 4-3 in the second inning, but the Grizzlies were able to answer again in the bottom half of the inning on RBI singles by Ward and Aaron Blair to go ahead 5-4.

Blair — who had 10 strikeouts, including one in every inning except the fourth — gained momentum and pitched four straight scoreless innings.

“He threw three pitches for strikes, and he let his adrenaline settle down in the middle innings and started pitching better,” Bassett said. “He’s a hard worker, and what I think he did the best was to show great composure on the mound as he didn’t panic. He grinded out innings for us.”

Spring Valley added two runs in the third on an error and a sacrifice fly and another run in the fourth on a solo home run by Ward, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, to make it 8-4

“He (Centennial starting pitcher Michael Wagner) was throwing really well, but I just went up there with the mentality that I was going to keep my swing short,” Ward said. “He just missed his spot and I was able to turn on it.”

The Bulldogs rallied in the seventh inning to cut the lead to 8-6 on RBI singles by Friend, who was 2-for-2 with four RBIs, and Chapman Schmidt.

Bassett pulled Blair in favor of Ward as Blair’s pitch count had reached 135.

After Ward walked Loral Monson, Centennial tied the game 8-8 on Christian Bernal’s two-out single that snuck through the hole between Spring Valley’s first and second baseman to score Rosenthal and Austin Congleton.

Cole, who entered the game on Spring Valley’s pitching change, doubled high off the left-center-field wall to start the rally in the bottom of the seventh.

Hendershot, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run, used a sacrifice bunt to push Cole to third. After a strikeout, Cole scored on a passed ball to end the game.

“He (Cole) waited for his moment to shine, and the biggest thing he did was to stay in the game and stay focused for when we needed him,” Bassett said. “He came up big, and for a 14-year-old kid, it was pretty special to watch him do that.”

“It was a good high school game, “ Centennial coach Charlie Cerrone said. “We made a couple of miscues, but we battled to a tie.

Nobody likes to lose like that, but hopefully we can rally and regroup for tomorrow.”

Centennial (23-11) plays Durango in an elimination game at 1 p.m. at Centennial. Spring Valley (25-8) plays Cimarron-Memorial at 4 p.m.

Cimarron-Memorial 3, Durango 0 — At Cimarron, Kody Gorden’s RBI double highlighted a three-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Spartans beat the Trailblazers.

Bradley Oswald tossed a two-hitter while striking out nine to earn the victory for Cimarron (28-5).

Palo Verde 7, Sierra Vista 6 — At Palo Verde, Christian Centrella went 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs and an RBI and winning pitcher Alex Bonczyk had a two-run single and a sacrifice fly to help the Panthers (21-10) nip the Mountain Lions (25-6).

Dustin Morelli supplied an RBI double and scored a run for Palo Verde.

Sierra Vista’s Jake Findlay homered and doubled, and David DeCarlo added a triple.

Sierra Vista plays Legacy at 1 p.m. today at Sierra Vista. Palo Verde takes on Bishop Gorman at 4 p.m. at Sierra Vista.

Bishop Gorman 10, Legacy 2 — At College of Southern Nevada, Jeff Malm, Joey Rickard, Johnny Field and Erik Van Meetren each had three hits as the Gaels downed the Longhorns (19-8).

Malm, Field and Stephen Manthei homered for Gorman (34-3).

Malm allowed one earned run on four hits in six innings to get the win. He stuck out seven.