DIVISION III BASEBALL: Lions’ offense roars to two wins over Needles, state crown

The old adage that defense wins championships apparently doesn’t apply to the Yerington baseball team.

“We emphasize offense,” Lions coach Vince Angle said.

Yerington cranked out 29 hits in two games Saturday and swept Needles 10-4 and 14-4 in six innings in the championship round of the Division III state tournament at The Meadows.

It is the third consecutive state title for the Lions (25-9-1), who scored 63 runs in five games during the three-day tournament.

“Offense is key for us,” Angle said. “If you score more runs than the other team, you win. And it doesn’t hurt that we have some really strong kids.”

Corbin Cliften, who was dropped from the No. 3 spot in the lineup to sixth, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs in the second game. He also came on in relief and pitched three scoreless innings to earn the victory.

Yerington sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven times in the fifth inning of the nightcap to break open a close game.

Nick Estavillo, who went 2-for-4, had a two-run double in the fifth to give the Lions an 8-4 lead, and Tyler Schlegelmilch (2-for-4) added a run-scoring double later in the inning.

Bo Garner’s single to left in the sixth scored Estavillo to end the game on the 10-run rule.

Needles (19-8) scored twice in the first inning as Garner walked in a run and then plunked Jason Neverov with the bases loaded. The Mustangs went up 4-1 in the second on a sacrifice fly by Mason Cisneros and a run-scoring bloop single by Devin Truscott.

But Yerington regained the momentum with four runs in the top of the third. Cliften’s two-run double gave the Lions a 5-4 lead, and they never trailed again.

“We got on a little roll in the second game, but the ball didn’t bounce our way, and it was sort of a snowball effect,” Mustangs coach Ken Parker said.

The Mustangs, who were seeking their first state title since 2009, tried to rally, but mistakes on the basepaths proved costly.

Down by a run, Aidan Shaver led off the fourth with a walk but was promptly picked off first by Cliften. Truscott singled to open the fifth and was caught stealing two pitches later.

Needles committed six errors in the two games and had several other micues.

“We made a lot of mental mistakes,” Parker said.

In the opening game, Dakota Thompson looped a two-run single over a drawn-in infield and later scored on an error to put the Lions up 4-0 in the second inning.

Needles answered with three runs in the third as Truscott ripped a two-run single to left, but Yerington reliever Tyler Jones shut down the Mustangs the rest of the way, allowing one run and three hits in four innings of work.

“They battled, and our guys did, too,” Parker said. “It’s a great game and you never know what’s going to happen. That’s what baseball is. You have to learn to lose in order to win.”

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