The pressure of playing in the state tournament can be too much for some young players.
But the stage wasn’t too big for Basic sophomore Shane Spencer on Friday at Las Vegas High.
Spencer allowed two unearned runs on five hits in six innings as the Wolves advanced to the Class 4A state baseball championship game with a 7-2 win over Rancho.
“For a sophomore to be that poised and composed; he actually got better,” Basic coach Scott Baker said. “Just really good command of all pitches and didn’t waver at all.”
The defending champion Wolves (28-7) didn’t know their opponent; the losers’ bracket final Friday between Rancho and Galena was suspended because of darkness with the game tied at 12 after eight innings.
That game will be picked up at 9 a.m. Saturday at Las Vegas, with the winner to play Basic in the championship game, which will follow. Because Basic is 2-0 in the tournament, its opponent would have to win twice to claim the title.
Spencer took a shutout into the sixth before an error led to two unearned runs. He struck out nine with no walks.
“Going into it, I was focused throughout the entire day,” Spencer said. “As soon as we got here, we locked in. I just kept composed, humble and stayed focused and locked in.”
Basic No. 9 hitter Kyle Turner, who didn’t start in Thursday’s tournament opener, got the Wolves on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the second, and Basic tacked on a run on a throwing error for a 2-0 lead.
“We had a spot start for Kyle Turner, and he was the one who came through big to get that first run,” Baker said. “Obviously that got the momentum going for us, for sure.”
Spencer said the early runs helped him settle in on the mound.
“I was the happiest in the dugout,” Spencer said. “I was jumping up and down. To get runs first, it just keeps the momentum going. As soon as we start scoring, we just get insurance runs, and it just keeps going from there and makes it easier on me.”
Basic tacked on four runs in the fourth with the help of two errors. Trace Evans and Garrett Giles had RBI singles in the inning, and Roger Riley drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Christian Rivero added an run-scoring single in the seventh for the final margin.
Spencer, who had to sit out last season because he attends Basic on a zone variance, said he was excited to be a real part of the program as the Wolves look for a second consecutive state title.
“To actually be a part of it and pitch and go through the season as a varsity player, it feels amazing,” Spencer said. “Second year in a row; I just can’t wait until tomorrow. It gives me the chills.”
Galena (24-14) looked to be in control in the losers’ bracket final, taking 10-3 lead after four innings.
But Rancho (26-9) scored eight runs in the fifth to take an 11-10 lead, one of two leads the Rams relinquished in the sixth and seventh innings.
Galena tied the score in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Brandon Scheid.
The Rams retook the lead in the seventh when Anthony Guzman led off with a single through the left side and scored on a single by Edarian Williams.
Rancho had a chance to tack on insurance runs with runners at first and second and one out. But Galena third baseman Scheid made a diving stop on a grounder and tagged out Williams before he could get back to third for the second out. After a walk, Miguel Elicerio was retired on a fly ball to center to end the threat.
The Grizzlies tied the score again in the seventh on an RBI double by Tom Licthy. The Grizzlies had runners at first and second with one out, but Rancho sophomore Tanner Ray got out of the jam by striking out cleanup hitter Austin Wikham and getting a groundout to end the inning.
Galena 5, Bishop Gorman 2 — Nick Brown allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, and the Grizzlies scored four runs in the third inning to eliminate the Gaels.
Gorman (30-7) led 2-0 after two innings, but Galena scored four runs with two outs to take the lead for good. Galena’s Andrew West was 2-for-3, including a solo homer in the fifth inning. He drove in two runs and scored twice.
Gorman starter Jarrod Billig cruised into the third, retiring the first six batters. But he gave up four hits and a walk in the third.
Billig pitched six innings and allowed five hits, struck out 11 and walked one. Brown settled in after struggling early. He gave up two runs on two hits and four walks in the first two innings. He didn’t yield another run or walk and was pulled after reaching his 110-pitch limit in the seventh.
Austin Wickham came on and hit the first batter he faced to put runners on first and second with one out.
After a fielder’s choice, Wickham walked Nick Hernandez to load the bases. But Wickham got John Gaughan to ground out to short to end the game.
Ryan Sepede was 2-for-3 with a double and a solo homer for the Gaels, who lost three of their final four games.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.