Joey Gallo is generally regarded as Bishop Gorman’s top hitter, but he looked more like the team’s ace pitcher Friday night.
Making a rare start, Gallo struck out nine and allowed only two hits in six strong innings to carry the Titans to an 11-3 victory over Las Vegas in the semifinals of the American Legion state tournament at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
Gallo also hit a three-run homer to help propel top-seeded Gorman (41-8-1) into today’s 7 p.m. championship game against No. 3 Silverado (21-9-1).
Titans coach Nick Day felt confident using Gallo as his starter in an elimination situation.
“Joey hasn’t been with us the whole summer, so he hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches,” said Day, whose squad avenged Thursday’s 11-inning loss to the Wildcats. “But I was thinking I have my toughest guy to hit on the mound.”
Gallo, who did not allow a hit until Justin Cheney’s one-out single in the fourth, said he felt good most of the way.
“I felt great on the mound,” said Gallo, who improved to 3-0. “I just tried to find my rhythm and throw strikes. I felt great after the first inning.”
Gallo got immediate offensive support, as the Titans posted two runs in the first and third innings to take a 4-0 lead. They broke it open with back-to-back RBI doubles by Johnny Sewald and Tyler Baker to go ahead 7-0 in the fourth.
Reliever Aldo Mora worked Las Vegas out of the jam, and his team finally got to Gallo by scoring two runs on one hit in the sixth to cut the deficit to 8-2.
The Wildcats got another run back on an RBI single by Robert Melendrez in the eighth, but Gallo answered with his home run in the bottom.
The Titans’ Lloyd Hoppel allowed one run over the final three innings to finish off Las Vegas (23-16).
“Vegas is tough because they’re not afraid of us at all,” said Day, whose squad beat the Wildcats in two of three meetings in the tourney. “They swing the bat. If you give them anything, they’re going to beat you.”
Sewald went 4-for-5 with two RBIs to lead Gorman’s offense, and Baker went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Silverado 9, Reno 8 — Morgan Stotts’ ninth-inning sacrifice fly was the difference, sending the Hawks into the final with their second victory in three meetings with the sixth-seeded Knights.
“Reno is a tough team,” Silverado coach Brian Whitaker said. “It hasn’t been easy because they just keep grinding away.”
Whitaker, critical of his team after a 9-3 loss to Reno on Thursday, said his pitching staff was crucial in the victory.
“We were much happier with our pitching tonight,” said Whitaker, who platooned four hurlers. “We got a quality start from (starter) Trevor Johnson. He made big pitches when he had to.”
With the winning RBI, reliever Stotts redeemed himself for allowing the Knights to tie the score at 8 with two runs on a check-swing infield single by Ryan Bush.
“I think we showed great composure after that happened,” Whitaker said. “We got the next guy out, and that got us in the dugout.”
Wyatt Reid fueled Silverado with a home run and an RBI single. Dillon Johnson and Anthony Ford also homered, and Michael Meyers and Trevor Johnson each had two hits and two RBIs.