DIVISION I-A BASEBALL: Miscues haunt Crusaders as they fall to losers’ bracket

Faith Lutheran’s baseball team got away with several mistakes in its opening game of the Division I-A state tournament.

The Crusaders’ sloppiness came back to haunt them later Thursday.

Churchill County scored all of its runs in the second inning, and Faith Lutheran made a bevy of miscues in a 4-3 loss in the winners’ bracket final at Las Vegas High.

Boulder City and Elko play an elimination game at 9 a.m. today at Durango, with the winner facing the Crusaders (29-7) at 11:30 a.m. in the losers’ bracket final. The winner of the second game will face Churchill County (25-10) in Saturday’s championship series and would have to defeat the Greenwave twice to earn the state title.

“One inning,” Faith Lutheran coach Blair Neagle said. “That’s all it takes when you have two pretty good teams.”

Brandon Davis went 2-for-3 with two doubles, and Greg Sylvester drove in two runs for the Crusaders. But Faith Lutheran managed only six hits against Churchill County starter Alex Mendez, who threw 140 pitches in the complete game and finished with eight strikeouts.

The Crusaders stranded nine runners and were unable to take advantage of Mendez’s wildness (five walks and two hit batters), going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“We needed to put the ball in play in some instances,” Neagle said. “We didn’t make adjustments quick enough, and give credit to the Fallon kid. He changed speeds and kept us off balance.”

Faith Lutheran starter Zach Trageton allowed three hits in six innings and struck out nine, but also issued seven walks. He walked in a run in the second before Dalton Frank’s squeeze bunt gave Churchill County a 2-0 lead. Marshall Coverston then hit a one-out grounder that scooted past Crusaders second baseman Chad Jones, allowing two runs to score.

In the bottom of the second, Joshua Harmonay got Faith Lutheran on the board with a run-scoring single, and the Crusaders appeared to cut Churchill County’s lead in half when Trageton followed with a fly ball to center field. But Jake Koentopp was called out for leaving third base early, and the score remained 4-1.

“It changed the momentum to a certain extent,” Neagle said. “It’s one play, but it wasn’t the deciding factor.”

Sylvester’s sacrifice fly scored Davis to trim Churchill County’s lead to 4-2 in the third, but the Crusaders left runners at the corners. Sylvester was stranded at second to end the game after his run-scoring double made it a one-run game.

“We didn’t get the leadoff guy on enough, so that kind of changes our offense,” Neagle said. “If we buckle down in the second inning there, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Faith Lutheran 8, Elko 5 — Trageton went 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs and an RBI, and Harmonay drove in two runs as the Crusaders survived four errors to beat the Indians (25-10) in the opening round.

Davis just missed a home run to right-center field in the bottom of the fifth, settling for a run-scoring double that put Faith Lutheran on top 4-2. Sylvester followed with an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch to give the Crusaders a 6-2 lead.

Harmonay added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Trageton tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Trageton added a run-scoring single in the third to put Faith Lutheran ahead 2-0.

Churchill County 8, Boulder City 2 — At Las Vegas, Austin Wishard was 3-for-3, and Preston Van Diest finished 3-for-4 with an RBI but the Eagles (24-12) lost to the Greenwave.

Boulder City stranded 12 runners on base and left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning and again in the seventh. Seth Kermode had a run-scoring single in the sixth to cut Churchill County’s lead to 8-2.

Dylan Jabines was 3-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs for the Greenwave.

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