Coronado coach Rich Santigate has one motto for legion baseball: don’t stop scoring until the final out.
It’s a credo that made plenty of sense Sunday night in the opening round of the American Legion state baseball tournament, as the sixth-seeded Cougars held on for a 14-12 win over the third-seeded Las Vegas Knights at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
“We just told them to keep playing ‘til it was over,” Santigate said. “There is no time limit, no score clock — just keep playing.”
After squandering an 8-4 lead, Cougars third baseman Noah Hemphill stroked a two-run single to right-center field, bringing home Joseph Calvert and Jake McLean to give them a 10-9 lead.
Coronado tacked on four additional runs in the top of the ninth to help seal the win. The Knights scored three in the bottom half of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough.
Calvert led Coronado (9-14) at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs, while Hemphill and Anthony Carro had two hits apiece for the Cougars. Calvert picked up the win.
“With us, if we pitch, we’re going to be okay,” Santigate said. “But we can score runs. The ball doesn’t know who is supposed to win. And we play an aggressive style. We just hope to have more guys make it.”
Coronado scored in every inning except the second, sixth and seventh. The Cougars held a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning after sending eight batters to the plate and taking advantage of two errors by the Knights.
The Knights, comprised of players from Bishop Gorman, cut the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth, when Christian Lamar’s bases-loaded double rolled to the left-center field fence and cleared the bases. The Cougars responded with two more in the top of the fifth inning to take an 8-4 lead.
Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh, the Knights took the lead when Braxton Wehrle powered a two-run home run over the right-field wall to give them a 9-8 lead.
Wehrle and Christian Lamar led the Knights (33-9) offensively, as both went 3 for 6. Wehrle also had three runs and three RBIs, while Lamar has two runs scored and five RBIs. Nate Swanis took the loss for the Knights, allowing four earned runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Coronado faces the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Las Vegas Aces 19, Durango 3 — Ryan Carrol highlighted a 20-hit attack for the Aces with a sixth-inning grand slam. Carroll went 3-for-4 with three runs and five RBIs, while Aaron Roberts was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and one RBI.
Brett Brocoff got the win for the Aces (32-11) after scattering four hits over five innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out seven.
Adam Niederman blasted a three-run home run for Durango.
Kaito Sukeyasu took the loss for Durango (32-40-1), which will face the Knights in an elimination game Tuesday at 5 p.m.