Michael Wallace’s grand slam didn’t help The Meadows win its opening game of the Class 2A state baseball tournament, but it might have saved the Mustangs’ season nonetheless.
The Meadows rode the momentum from Wallace’s blast into the second game on Friday and beat Pershing County 11-7 at Mountain View to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
The Meadows trailed Whittell 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the opener and had just three hits before Wallace cleared the bases with his shot to left. The Mustangs still lost 10-7, but against Pershing County, The Meadows banged out 14 hits and scored eight times in the third inning.
The win over Pershing County earned the Mustangs (18-9) a rematch with Whittell at 9 a.m. today at Mountain View in another elimination game.
The winner plays Needles (Calif.) at noon and must defeat Needles (23-6) twice to earn the state title.
“I’d rather be in the driver’s seat, but there’s not much we can do about it. We’ve just gotta go,” The Meadows coach Frank DeSantis said. “We’re treading water, and it’s up to our chin.”
The Mustangs did all their damage in the third inning against Pershing County with two outs. Ryan Wells had a two-run single to make it 4-1, and Austin Brown’s double made it 5-1. Brian Fahey then broke it open with a two-run single, and an error on the play allowed another run to score and give The Meadows a 9-1 lead.
That was plenty for Mustangs freshman starter Garrett Gosse, who threw six strong innings.
“In the first game we didn’t have any pitching, we didn’t have any defense, and we didn’t have any hitting,” DeSantis said. “We definitely got better pitching from Garrett and hit the ball. But our defense still isn’t where it should be.”
Whittell 10, The Meadows 7 — The Warriors took advantage of several mistakes by the Mustangs to score six times in the fifth inning.
Alex Potnick had a run-scoring single that gave Whittell a 4-1 lead before an error by The Meadows allowed two more runs to score. The Warriors also scored on a balk and a wild pitch.
Needles 10, Whittell 0 — Jared Enderle allowed one hit and struck out eight as the Mustangs won in five innings to advance to play for the championship.
Andrew Mathews went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead Needles, which scored in every inning. Darra Russell was 2-for-2 with three runs, and Bobby Stahel went 2-for-4, including a three-run triple in the fourth inning that gave the Mustangs a 9-0 lead.
Needles 8, Pershing County 5 — Enderle hit a three-run homer as part of a seven-run fifth inning to lift Needles in the opener.
Stahel had a two-run single, while Mathews and Matt McAndrews added RBI singles in the fifth to break open what had been a 1-1 game.
Pershing County freshman Dillon Wanner hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-4.
Lincoln County played Needles four times this season before the start of the Class 2A state softball tournament, and the Lynx struggled to hit each time.
It was no different on Friday.
Senior Lexi Baldwin gave up two hits as Needles beat Lincoln County 7-0 at Mountain View to advance to the championship game.
Lincoln County (24-12) will play Pershing County at 10 a.m. today at Mountain View in an elimination game. The winner takes on Needles (21-5) at noon and must win twice to capture the state title.
Baldwin finished with eight strikeouts and got out of a big jam in the fourth inning. Lincoln County had runners on second and third with one out, but Michelle Wheatley was tagged out trying to score on a wild pitch, and Baldwin got the next batter to end the threat.
“We’re right there, we just need that timely hit,” Lynx coach Pat Kelley said. “It’d be fun to get that hit one time and put them on the defensive for once.”
Kassie Cairns’ sacrifice fly put Needles up 2-0 in the first inning.
Needles then tacked on three more runs in the third inning on a run-scoring infield single by Holly Laswell and a two-run double from Amy Bailey.
Needles went up 6-0 in the sixth after an error — one of eight by Lincoln County — before Alex Chandler added a run-scoring single to cap the scoring.
In five games, all losses, Lincoln County has been outscored by Needles 21-5, including three straight shutouts.
“Needles is really steady. They don’t have a weakness, especially in the infield,” Kelley said. “We’ve got to hit the ball. We’ve just struggled to hit the ball against them.”
Lincoln County 6, Battle Mountain 0 — Kori Gloeckner struck out seven, and Tera Tibbitts went 3-for-3 as the Lynx beat the Longhorns in the opening round.
Lincoln County took advantage of three errors to score five times in the fourth inning. Tibbitts had a run-scoring double and Marissa Smerek a two-run triple.
Wheatley went 2-for-4 with a double for the Lynx.
Needles 9, Pershing County 1 — Alex Chandler struck out 10 and didn’t allow a hit after the first inning as Needles rolled in the opening round.
Needles blew it open in the third inning, scoring six times to take an 8-1 lead. Cairns had a two-run double, while Angelina Isaacson and Baldwin added run-scoring singles in the inning.
Baldwin and Isaacson each finished 2-for-3, while Holly and Haley Laswell both went 2-for-4 for Needles.