Tabor Maxwell wasn’t perfect on Thursday. But outside of one pitch, the Pahranagat Valley sophomore couldn’t have been much more dominant.
Maxwell fired a three-hitter and struck out 11 as the Panthers defeated Whittell 12-2 in five innings in the Division IV state baseball tournament at Durango.
“He did a great job,” Pahranagat Valley coach Brad Loveday said. “And he’s still just a sophomore, too. He played football, basketball and baseball, and he’s just good in everything he does.”
The Panthers (21-2) play Virginia City (19-3) at 10 a.m. Friday at Mountain View in the winners’ bracket final. Whittell (24-8) takes on Tonopah (17-9) at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.
Maxwell rolled through the first three innings, striking out eight of the nine batters he faced.
Jacob Sharp reached on an infield single to lead off the fourth, and two outs later, cleanup hitter Peyton Galli drove a 1-and-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.
“He just missed his spot,” Loveday said. “It was one ball, two strikes and we were going way outside and he missed and came down the middle. And the kid’s a good hitter, and he caught all of it.”
Maxwell allowed an infield single and a walk to the next two batters, but then struck out three of the final four batters to end the game.
The Panthers offense, meanwhile, got going right out of the gate. Jordan Cryts led off the bottom of the first with a triple, and Brandon Burris added a two-out, two-run triple to put Pahranagat Valley on the board.
Burris came home on an infield single by Christian Higbee to make it 3-0 after one inning.
“Especially with young kids, it kind of alleviates the stress and allows them to do what they do and play the game they love to play,” Loveday said of grabbing the early lead.
The Panthers added two runs in each of the second and third innings, then plated five runs in the fourth.
Burris was 2-for-2 with a double, a triple, three runs and three RBIs, and Cryts went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, two runs and two RBIs to lead the Panthers.
Caleb Hansen drove in two runs, and Maxwell added an RBI double for Pahranagat Valley.
“This group of kids, they’re just really good kids,” Loveday said. “I have a great job to be able to be around these kids all the time. It’s just so much fun. Practices are so much fun. They work hard, (and) they play the game the right way. It’s just fun to be out with them.”
Virginia City 9, Tonopah 5 — At Durango, Clint Hess hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the sixth to give Virginia City the win over Tonopah.
Tonopah led 5-3 going into the sixth, but Virginia City got an RBI double by pinch hitter Ireland Franklin to cut the lead to one.
Virginia City loaded the bases on a hit batter and an error, and Hess homered over the left-field fence to make it 8-5. Colt Hess added an RBI single for the final margin.
Tonopah trailed 3-0 after five innings and managed only one hit in the game, but it was an inside-the-park grand slam by Connor Friel that put his team up 5-3.
Virginia City starter Isaiah Yoder didn’t allow a hit in 5 1/3 innings of work, but left after a hit batter and a walk with one out in the sixth.
Reliever Carlos Robledo walked the first two batters he faced to force in a run, and Friel lined a hit over the head of center fielder Clint Hess, who was playing shallow.
The ball rolled all the way to the fence, and Friel beat the relay to the plate to give Tonopah the 5-3 lead.
Robledo walked four in 1 2/3 innings, but he allowed just the one hit and struck out five to get the win.
Clint Hess was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and the homer to lead Virginia City’s 13-hit attack. Yoder, Robledo, Colt Hess and Christian Lindsay each added two hits.
Friel went the distance for Tonopah, yielding five earned runs and striking out nine.