Pahranagat Valley sophomore Stockton Maxwell had quite the 16th birthday on Thursday.
The right-hander overcame some early inning jitters to lead his team into the winner’s bracket of the Class 1A state baseball tournament. He allowed three hits, struck out two and walked four over 5⅓ innings to lead the Panthers to a 10-4 win over Mineral County. He was charged with three runs, all unearned.
“We got the win. It wasn’t that pretty but we got it,” Maxwell said. “I just told myself that I needed to throw strikes, and that if I just got it over the plate to get ahead of the hitters, I’d be alright.”
Maxwell’s performance will help coach Brad Loveday better manage his pitch counts in the Panthers’ remaining games in the tournament. Maxwell threw 100 pitches in the opening night win. The Panthers — the defending state champions — play Indian Springs at 1 p.m. Friday in a winner’s bracket contest. The winner of that game advances to the Saturday’s championship round.
“We had a sophomore pitching for us, and he did a good job,” Loveday said. “We’re kind of holding back some of our other pitchers. But he did a great job. In the first inning, he was a little tense, but he seemed to settle down a little after that. It was good.”
The Serpents took advantage of those early game jitters and plated two runs with two outs in the first inning. After the first, Maxwell shut down Mineral County until a throwing error allowed them to score their third run in the fourth inning.
The Panthers made an uncharacteristic four errors, which Loveday wants to see cleaned up. They also ran themselves out of some bigger innings with baserunning mistakes in the first and sixth innings.
“We’ve got to play better defensively,” Loveday said. “We made some errors that we don’t normally make. It wasn’t horrible, but we’re better than that. We need to play a little better than that. Other than that we made a few baserunning gaffes with some of the younger kids. I’m not too worried. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”
While the Panthers defense struggled at times, the offense didn’t have any playoff jitters.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Panthers got a spark from Christian Higbee’s RBI single in the bottom of the first. He would eventually score on passed ball to tie the score at 2-2.
In the second inning, Garrett Higbee’s two-run single capped off a three-run inning and gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish. The Panthers scored three more runs in the third to put the game away.
Garrett Higbee went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Panthers. Ike Taylor, Asher Haworth, Tabor Maxwell, Christian Higbee and Stockton Maxwell each had RBIs for the Panthers.
Brandon West went 2-for-3 with a RBI to lead the Serpents.
Indian Springs 21, Virginia City 2 — Devon Sickler was 3-for-4 with two doubles and six RBIs as the Thunderbirds routed the Muckers 21-2 in three innings.
Zack Reimer was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Philip Reimer went 2-for-2 with three runs and three RBIs for Indian Springs.
Nino Alvarez was 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs for the Thunderb
irds, who scored 14 runs in the first inning.