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DIVISION I-A BASEBALL: Bunt ignites Crusaders’ championship win

Baseball’s become a game fascinated by the long ball.

But Faith Lutheran used a bunt to break Boulder City’s back Saturday.

Greg Sylvester’s squeeze bunt that turned into an infield hit opened the floodgates for a six-run sixth inning that broke a 3-3 tie, and the Crusaders went on to beat the Eagles 14-3 for the Division I-A state championship at College of Southern Nevada.

“Usually that’s who we are,” Faith Lutheran coach Blair Neagle said. “We kind of execute and move guys around and look for the big hit.”

Andrew Hudgins walked to lead off the sixth and scored after a single and an error to give Faith Lutheran (27-9) the lead, but Sylvester’s bunt toward second base opened things up. Eric Uelmen added a two-run triple as the Crusaders pulled ahead 9-3, and they made it a blowout with five more runs in the seventh.

“They’re just great kids,” Neagle said of his team. “They did everything we asked them to do, and they really deserve it.”

Boulder City (25-11) had edged Faith Lutheran 7-6 earlier Saturday to force the deciding game, and the Eagles took control early in Game 2, leading 3-0 after three innings.

Some adjustments were in order for Faith Lutheran.

“We were not staying back (at the plate), we were not having very good at-bats. So they decided to stay back a little bit and track the ball,” Neagle said.

Faith Lutheran’s Dakota Greenawalt ripped a two-run double into the left-center-field gap in the fourth, and the Crusaders tied it in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Caleb Summerhays.

Boulder City got a leadoff single by D.J. Koopman in the bottom of the fifth, but Faith Lutheran reliever Brandon Johnson came in to preserve the tie and was the winning pitcher. He got Peyton Koopman to line into a double play, finished the inning with a groundout and struck out the side in the sixth.

“He’s been that way all year,” Neagle said. “He’s just a wonderful  young man, and he loves the moment.”

Boulder City was betrayed by its defense, making seven errors that led to five unearned runs.

In the opener, a Faith Lutheran rally fell short. The Crusaders pulled to within 7-6 in the sixth on Uelmen’s RBI single and Hudgins’ sacrifice fly, and they got the potential tying run as far as third base in the seventh before Peyton Koopman got Tyler Trageton to fly out to end the game.

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