Southern Nevada Bengals coach Sean DeSoto has three objectives that he stresses to his team — good defense, good pitching and timely hitting.
All of those phases came into play Wednesday night at the Connie Mack state baseball tournament at the College of Southern Nevada.
The Bengals took advantage of every Southern Nevada Falcons mistake in a three-run sixth inning, and the tourney’s top seed escaped with a 5-2 victory.
Play continues Thursday with three games slated. The Las Vegas Mustangs and the Las Vegas Longhorns square off at 2 p.m. At 5 p.m., Green Valley Elite meets the Falcons. The Bengals face Desert Hills (Utah) at 8 p.m. with the winner advancing to Saturday’s championship round.
“It’s always a team effort,” DeSoto said. “I tell the kids to stay focused, always be ready because you never know when you might have to make a play.”
The Bengals did make the plays, but got some help from the Falcons in the sixth.
Brandon Rivera was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Courtesy runner Xavier Miller ran for Rivera and the moved proved beneficial, as Miller went to second on a passed ball, stole third and scored on catcher Erick Vaccaro’s bad throw into left field. The top-seeded Bengals added RBIs from Jay DeSoto on a bases-loaded walk and Mathew Cox on a groundout to finish the scoring.
In that important sixth, the Bengals took advantage of two walks, two errors, a hit batsman and one timely hit.
“That happens in the game sometimes,” Sean DeSoto said. “But you have to fight for everything you get. Nothing is given to you. That’s what I tell the team, to give 100 percent and leave it all on the field.”
Bengals starter Louie Lares certainly did that, allowing two runs on five hits in 6⅓ innings while fanning seven. He did leave the game with runners on first and second with one out. But Julio Seperich induced a double play on his first pitch, for a one-pitch save.
In addition, the Bengals got solid play from their outfield, as Torren Brozovich and Cox each threw out runners trying to advance an extra base.
The Falcons opened the scoring as Kelton Lachelt scored from second on a throwing error in the first for a 1-0 lead. The Bengals answered with a run in the bottom of the second as Lares tripled and scored on an error.
The Bengals took the lead in the third on Brozovich’s RBI double, scoring Jay DeSoto, but the Falcons tied the game in the fifth on Chase Taquintero’s double.
Desert Hills (Utah) Thunder 8, Las Vegas Mustangs 7 — Landon Levine got Brenten Lyman to ground out with the bases loaded to end the game as Desert Hills stopped the final Mustangs’ rally.
Las Vegas trailed, 8-5 but Trent McGregor and Austin Valdez had back-to-back RBI singles in the seventh to pull the Mustangs to within one. Mason Rhiner followed with a grounder that went through the legs of Thunder shortstop Trey Allred to load the bases.
Dillon Kathrein filed out to right field for the second out, and Levine was left to face the Mustangs’ leadoff hitter. On a 1-and-2 pitch, Lyman tapped back to Levine preserving the win.
McGregor had three hits to lead the Mustangs, which scored three runs in the opening inning.
Jaxton Reber had three hits and drove in two for Desert Hills.