With a berth to the Class 3A state baseball tournament essentially secured by then, Boulder City second baseman Rhett Armstrong had just one thing on his mind as he approached the plate with runners on first and second base and one out in the top of the sixth inning Friday afternoon.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” he said, reflecting.
On his final at-bat of the day, with fans and players anxiously looking on in hopes of seeing a rare feat, the junior leadoff hitter drew a seven-pitch walk and fell a single short of the cycle. He didn’t mind too much, as his day already had extended the defending state champions’ season for another week.
Armstrong finished 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, a two-run homer, two walks, four runs and three RBIs in the Eagles’ 19-3, six-inning win over Pahrump Valley in the losers’ bracket final of the Southern Region tournament at Tech.
Boulder City (18-15) will face top-seeded Moapa Valley (21-7) in the region final at noon on Saturday. The Eagles must win twice to win their second consecutive region title.
“Honestly, after the home run (in the fifth inning), I wasn’t even thinking about the cycle,” Armstrong said. “(My teammates) didn’t say anything until I got ready for my next at-bat.
“Of course I was trying to do it. But I was just trying to put the ball in play, honestly.”
Armstrong swung once, earning a foul-tip, in his final at-bat. He still kept his on-base percentage perfect when he trotted to first base for his second walk of the game.
“Everybody just steps up at different times for us,” Boulder City coach Bobby Reese said. “We don’t have that one superstar, which is nice. So today, Rhett hit the ball well, obviously, but a lot of guys hit the ball well behind him. That’s for sure.”
The Eagles scored in every inning except the second and finished with 18 hits. Sean Jones was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three runs, and D.J. Reese and Noah Higgins each doubled for Boulder City, which led 5-0 after three innings.
Reese finished 3-for-5, and Anthony Pacifico and Jacob Hubel each drove in two runs.
“(The bats) finally woke up,” Bobby Reese said. “We didn’t hit well yesterday. We hit a lot of balls hard, just right at some people. Things didn’t go our way, so I knew we were capable of swinging it better and putting up some numbers. And, obviously, when you get hot, you get hot. Momentum starts carrying.
“This is quite an accomplishment for these boys. A lot of people wrote us off because we graduated seven seniors.“
On the mound, Hubel allowed two earned runs over four innings to earn the win. The senior right-hander needed just 31 pitches to get through the first three innings, getting six fly outs and a strikeout, to set the tone. His offense did the rest.
“He said he wanted the ball, and when that kid wants the ball, I’m giving it to him,” Reese said. “He’s pitched in a lot of big games for me last year and this year. And I’m looking forward to watching him pitch in the state tournament. I like my chances with him on the mound.”
Willie Lucas had an RBI triple, and Chase McDaniel went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead Pahrump Valley (22-13-1).
Pahrump Valley 15, Chaparral 8 — Drew Walker went 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored, and the Trojans stormed to an 8-2 lead after two innings en route to their victory over the Cowboys earlier in the day in an elimination game.
Anthony Charles was 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Garrett Lucas went 2-for-2 with a double, four runs and an RBI. John MacDonald also doubled for Pahrump, which scored in every inning except the third and finished with 16 hits.
Willie Lucas threw four strong innings to earn the win, and Dylan Grossell pitched three innings of relief to pick up the save.
Connor Jarvis and Jacob Mauro each doubled twice to lead Chaparral. Talon Greene was 4-for-4 with a run, and Robert O’Connor also doubled for the Cowboys (21-11-1).