After watching four of his seniors fall short of Class 3A state titles in football and boys basketball this year, Virgin Valley baseball coach Boyd Wittwer sensed “some people in town were doubting their heart a little bit.”
The Bulldogs removed any doubt about their heart Saturday.
Virgin Valley routed Faith Lutheran 13-1 in five innings, then beat the host Crusaders 2-1 in the winner-take-all finale of the double-elimination 3A state tournament.
Facing elimination in their final three games of the tournament, the South No. 1 seed Bulldogs (29-8) won all three on the way to their second straight 3A state title.
“They were close in football and they had a shot at it in basketball, and things didn’t work out,” Wittwer said. “I think some people in town were doubting their heart a little bit.
“No doubt anymore. This was a combination of talent and heart.”
No one was more clutch than Anthony Morris. The senior third baseman was 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in the 13-1 win and 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the 2-1 victory.
“It’s been our goal since we were little, playing together since we were 8,” Morris said of winning repeat titles. “It’s the best way to end it. I love all the guys I’ve been playing with. It’s been a fun road, and I’m going to miss them.”
Morris’ one-out single to shallow center field in the bottom of the sixth inning of the finale plated Terran Leavitt for the go-ahead run.
Virgin Valley’s Jason Wittwer threw a complete game in the finale. The junior scattered five hits, hit two batters and struck out eight.
He fanned two of the three batters he faced in the seventh.
“He stepped up and definitely gave us a shot to win,” Morris said of Jason Wittwer. “He showed a lot of heart.”
It was a more arduous road for the Bulldogs to the title than last year, when they went 3-0 in the state tournament.
“’Resilient’ is the word,” Boyd Wittwer said. “When we showed up today, the kids were a little beat up — sore shoulders, sore arms, sore legs and all sorts of things. It would have been easy not to play hard.”
Virgin Valley’s Jonathan Gleave pitched a five-inning two-hitter with two strikeouts in the first game.
Zach Horlacher was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs for the Bulldogs in the 13-1 win. Gleave (three RBIs), Leavitt and Brandt Eaton all went 2-for-3.
Christian Lopez was 2-for-3 with an RBI in the finale to lead Faith Lutheran (15-22).
The South No. 2 seed Crusaders entered Saturday riding an eight-game winning streak and needing one win for their second 3A state title in three years.
Virgin Valley finished 5-2 against Faith Lutheran on the season.
Saturday was supposed to be a coronation for the Boulder City softball team.
Enjoying their best season in a decade, the Eagles needed only a doubleheader split against Fernley for their first Class 3A state title since 1999.
They ran the table in the 3A Southern League and carried an 11-game winning streak into the final round of the double-elimination 3A state tournament at Faith Lutheran.
But none of that mattered, as the Eagles committed nine errors on the day in losing 3-2 and 9-1 to Fernley, which captured its third straight 3A state crown.
“They’re emotionally a little drained right now,” Boulder City coach Bruce Reid said of his players. “They don’t like to be scored upon, let alone lose.
“They take a lot of pride in their defense, and that’s what’s mainly upsetting them here, is they didn’t play the defense we normally play.”
Boulder City (32-5) committed seven errors in the decisive 9-1 loss. The two defeats were the first losses the Eagles had suffered against any 3A school all season.
Taylor McKeever and Megan Snyder hit RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth inning of the first game to tie the game at 2, but the Eagles couldn’t push across any more runs with the bases loaded and two outs.
It cost them, as Fernley catcher Sevreana Johnson belted a two-out home run to center field to give the Vaqueros a 3-2 lead.
Jayme King was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Fernley (32-5) in the first game. McKeever and Snyder both went 2-for-3 for Boulder City.
Fernley won four straight elimination games to claim the title.
The North No. 1 seed Vaqueros opened the tourney with a 4-3 loss to South No. 2 Faith Lutheran on Friday.
“We knew we just had to come through and do what we did,” Fernley coach Diane Chapin said. “We didn’t play very good in the game that we lost.”
Reid said Fernley’s senior leadership proved crucial. Boulder City has no seniors.
“That second game, (Fernley) figured it out,” he said. “Their leadership, that senior thing, really got to us. We didn’t handle it very well. It’s a learning curve for us.
“They adjusted to our pitchers. They adjusted to what we were throwing. They knew which batters were going to get highs and outside pitches.”
Reid was already looking to next year. All 14 players are set to return, including freshman pitcher Karlee Koopman, who entered the state tournament with a 14-3 record and a 1.05 ERA.
“Once her muscles develop, I pity the batters,” Reid said.
Fernley 10, Faith Lutheran 0 — The Vaqueros scored six runs in the fifth inning to win by the 10-run rule and eliminate the Crusaders.
Kailey McEvilly was 2-for-2 to lead Faith Lutheran (17-18).