At the start of play Friday, Yerington’s baseball team was one victory away from making its seventh straight appearance in the state final.
The Lions won 19 consecutive games and hadn’t lost two games in a row since losing twice to Lincoln County in last season’s state final.
But Yerington lost 7-6 to Needles on Friday and at The Meadows and was eliminated from the 2A state tournament.
Needles (19-1) will meet Lincoln County (24-3) for the championship at 10 a.m. Saturday. Should Needles win, a second game will follow.
“We play very good baseball here in the south,” Needles coach Ken Parker said. “We stressed defense for the last couple of weeks. I told the guys that if we played solid defense we could beat anyone.”
The Lions did have one final chance in the seventh against the Mustangs down 7-5. Bryson Camarena opened the frame with a single, and after a strikeout, freshman Steyr Brinkley slapped a run-scoring to cut Needles’ lead to one.
However, Needles’ Dillon Darrow got Trevor Evasovic to fly out to center and struck out Austin Schlegelmilch to end the game.
“That’s a very good program (Yerington) we beat today,” said Parker, whose team lost to the Lions 12-5 in the opening round. “We took a lot from Thursday’s game and said if we stick to the plan, good things could happen.”
Parker was very pleased with his pitching staff against a solid Yerington lineup. Due to the pitch count, Needles pulled starter Jayden Yeager in the second inning with the Mustangs holding a 3-2 lead.
Middle reliever Reid Shaver pitched five solid innings, allowing just three runs.
“Our pitchers were great today,” Parker said. “I can’t single anyone out, it was a total effort. I knew we would hit the ball and score runs, but if we got the pitching and played good defense behind them, we would have a chance.”
Needles 12, West Wendover 1 — The Mustangs used a five-run third to down the Wolverines (14-17) in five innings in an elimination game.
Yeager allowed two hits in four innings of work to pick up the win.
Dylan Hetrick had three of the Mustangs’ six hits in the opener. Tyler White added a RBI triple and scored twice for Needles.
Lincoln County 16, Yerington 8 — The Lynx scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back as the defending state champs snapped the Lions’ 19-game winning streak.
“It was very important to jump out early,” said Lincoln County coach Raymond Wadsworth, whose team erased a quick 2-0 deficit with the big first. “If you don’t get ahead early, they (Yerington) will just eat you alive.”
Brinkley had a RBI triple and Schlegelmich added a run-scoring single in the first to give the Lions the 2-0 advantage.
But the Lynx quickly answered in the home half. The first five batters scored against Brinkley, who yielded three walks, and Dean Ottley’s two-run single highlighted the inning.
Ottley led the Lynx with three hits, three runs and two RBIs. Cody Thornock also had three hits and scored twice, and made a huge diving catch to start a double play in the fifth.
The top five batters in the Lincoln County order — Thornock, Alex Vincent, Kobe Walker, Ottley and McKinley O’Connor — combined for eight of the nine Lynx hits and scored 11 runs.