4A BASEBALL: Rickard, Malm pitch Gaels to fourth straight title

As freshmen, Joey Rickard and Jeff Malm played key roles in Bishop Gorman’s first state baseball championship.

Playing in their final high school game on Saturday, Rickard and Malm combined to pitch the Gaels to their fourth title in a row.

Rickard and Malm combined on a three-hitter as Gorman (40-4) beat Cimarron-Memorial 3-1 for the Class 4A state championship at the College of Southern Nevada.

“That was the goal we set as freshmen to win the first one in school history, and to be able to do it year, after year, after year, that’s pretty special,” Malm said. “It doesn’t happen a whole lot to be able to win four straight championships. It’s really an incredible feeling.”

Rickard, who got the winning hit in the state title game as a freshman, got the start on Saturday and allowed one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings.

“That kind of explains my high school career,” Rickard said. “We battled all the way from the very first one, we never gave up and played hard all four years. This is where it got us.”

Rickard took the loss against Cimarron (33-7) when the Spartans beat the Gaels 10-2 in the Sunset Region title game but had better control on Saturday.

“In that regional championship game Rickard wasn’t at his best and we were able to capitalize on that,” Cimarron coach Mike Hubel said. “And today he was at his best and he was able to capitalize on us.”

Rickard left with two on and one out in the sixth and was replaced by Malm, who had pitched eight innings and thrown 134 pitches in a 2-1 win over Green Valley on Thursday.

He struck out the next two batters, and retired the side in order in the seventh to earn the save. He struck out four in the game, giving him 19 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings in the tournament.

“He’s a horse,” Gorman coach Chris Sheff said. “These are times when you have to go with your guys and sometimes bring guys on short rest. He looked strong. He was in complete control.”

Gorman’s pitching staff allowed just two runs on eight hits in three state tournament games. The Gaels recorded 34 of 66 outs by strikeout.

“Our pitching obviously is what won this thing,” Sheff said. “Our arms are pretty dominating.”

Gorman scored a pair of runs in the top of the first on RBI singles by Erik Van Meetren and R.J. Santigate.

They added a run in the third when Johnny Field tripled and scored on another RBI single by Van Meetren.

Cimarron’s run came in the top of the fourth on an RBI double by Kaz Smith. The Spartans had runners on second and third in the inning, but Rickard struck out Dyllon Nuernberg to end the threat.

Cimarron’s Sam Lindsey, who got the win in the Sunset title game, was solid again, allowing eight hits and striking out five.

“Sammy threw a great game against them again,” Hubel said. “That’s all we can ask for. We couldn’t capitalize on a couple opportunities we had, and that was the difference in the game.”

Malm and Rickard also made a difference, closing out their high school careers in style.

“We battled our ass off today,” Malm said. “They deserved to beat us last week, but we came out and we were intense from the beginning. I’m real proud to be a part of this team.

Rickard said: “It can’t get any better than this. It’s by far the best one. Going out on top, it’s the best feeling.”

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