Indian Springs baseball coach Eric Hauge asked his team for five runs in the first inning against Mineral County.
The Thunderbirds gave him six and advanced to the Class 1A state title game with a resounding 14-3 win in five innings Friday at Durango.
The Thunderbirds (25-5) will face defending champion Pahranagat Valley (21-9) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Durango in the final. The Thunderbirds will need to win twice to win the school’s first state championship since 1973.
“If I knew that trick worked, then I would have saved it for (Saturday),” Hauge said. “They hit the ball. The kids have been playing great all year. It’s kind of what we do, we hit. I didn’t think I was asking for too much with five, but they did great, they did great, I’m proud of them.
“I feel pretty good (about our chances). We have a lot of pitching left. We hit the ball, and I’m pretty excited about (Saturday). It’s been a while since we’ve made it back to the state championship game, so parents are excited, kids are excited and that’s what matters.”
The game started with Elyas Jones and Nino Alavarez each getting hit by pitches from Mineral County starter Taylen Wachsmuth. Wrench Perry then delivered a two-run double to give the Thunderbirds an early lead.
Jordan Flamm capped off the first-inning scoring with a two-out, two-run single to give the Thunderbirds a 6-0 advantage.
The Thunderbirds scored two runs in the second inning, five runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth to push their lead to 14-1.
Phillip Reimer and Zach Williams also had two RBIs for Indian Springs. In all, the Thunderbirds pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of four walks and five Mineral County errors.
Aaron Avery scattered three runs on five hits over 3⅔ innings and struck out six to pick up the win in relief of Jones, who was pulled after pitching a scoreless first inning.
Avery did run into some trouble in the fifth inning when the Serpents scored two runs and threatened to extend the game before Isaiah Jones came out to strike out the one batter he faced to close out the win.
This was Avery’s second win of the state tournament. He came on in relief of Dillon Pollock in the Thunderbirds 21-2 win over Virginia City in the first game of the tournament. Avery’s emergence has helped keep pitch counts down for the Thunderbirds pitching staff.
“What (finishing the game in five innings) did was it saved me having to use a pitcher or two that I plan on using (Saturday),” Hauge said. “We were kind of set up where we’ll have four or five guys who can all throw (Saturday) because we’re planning on playing two games.”
Wachsmuth went 2-for- 3 with two RBIs to lead the Serpents. Ethan Nelms went 1-for-3 with a double and a RBI.
Pahranagat Valley 7, Indian Springs 2 — Tabor Maxwell allowed one earned run and fanned nine over 6⅔ innings to lead the Panthers past the Thunderbirds in the winners’ bracket final.
Christian Higbee led the Panthers at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Maxwell also doubled for the Panthers, who took control of the game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Elyas Jones went 2-for-4 to lead the Thunderbirds. Wrench Perry and Isaiah Jones each had RBIs for Indian Springs.