To say that the Southern Nevada Bengals walked their way to the Connie Mack state tournament final Thursday night would be a huge understatement.
The Bengals took advantage of six walks in the opening inning on their way to seven-run lead and never looked back in taking a 14-2 victory over Desert Hills (Utah) at the College of Southern Nevada.
With the win the Bengals advance to Saturday’s final, needing one win to claim the state crown.
Meanwhile, the other three teams remaining will fight it out Friday for Saturday’s other spot. The Las Vegas Mustangs face the Southern Nevada Falcons at 5 p.m., with the winner taking on Desert Hills at 8 p.m.
In all, the Bengals drew 10 base on balls in just five innings. They did have a big hit sandwiched in, a bases-clearing double from Lucas Rosenblatt as part of the 27-minute Bengal second inning, in which they scored seven more runs.
“We wanted to put the pressure on early,” Bengals coach Sean DeSoto said. “But regardless of how we score the runs, we wanted to continue putting the pressure on them.”
Matthew Cox opened the game with a double off Thunder starter Mason Briggs, who didn’t get out of the first inning. Briggs then threw 16 balls out of the next 17 pitches and walked Louie Lares, Julio Seperich, Danny Ruiz and Torren Brozovich. The Bengals also got RBIs from Brandon Rivera, Kannon Henderson, Nick DeSoto and Lares to close out the first.
“I’ve never seen four straight walks like that,” said Brozovich, who might start on the mound in Saturday’s finale. “We wanted to keep the pressure on and not let up. It was a fun game, despite all the walks.”
Southern Nevada Falcons 5, Green Valley Elite 4 — Eric Vacarro and Tyler Kara had RBI singles during a three-run sixth as the fifth-seeded Falcons eliminated No. 3 Green Valley Elite.
The Falcons trailed 4-2 heading into the sixth but took advantage of three hits, a key error, and a balk to produce the runs.
Once with the lead, the Falcons called on Anthony Pannullo, who retired the final seven men he faced.
Brayden Griffie and Kara each had two hits for the Falcons, who jumped on Green Valley starter Evan Cook for two runs in the first.
Gavin Malcolm led the Elite with a 4-for-5 day, and drove in a pair of runs. Malcom’s two-run single highlighted a four-run fourth for Elite, which at the time gave Green Valley a two-run cushion.
Las Vegas Mustangs 8, Las Vegas Longhorns 4 — Mason Rhiner scattered four hits over his five-plus innings of work and the seventh-seeded Mustangs used a four-run second to eliminate the No. 8 Longhorns.
Brenten Lyman had a big day for the Mustangs, with four hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Rhiner helped his cause by walking three times and scoring twice.
Rhiner did get off to a rough beginning, allowing two runs in the opening inning. Forrest Grevelis and Isaiah Buhecker drove in the runs for the Longhorns, but Rhiner allowed just two hits the rest of the day.
In all, there were nine walks and five batters hit by pitch combined by the pitching staffs.