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Green Valley uses big first inning to claim win

After Monday’s rough start at the Connie Mack State Tournament, Green Valley Elite coach Matt Harrison was hoping his team would get off to a much better beginning Tuesday against Faith Lutheran.

Green Valley Elite did just that, in a major way.

Giovanni Ramos’ three-run triple highlighted Elite’s eight-run first inning, and Green Valley never looked back in taking an 8-2 elimination victory.

Games continue Wednesday with a pair of winners’ bracket games. Desert Hills (Utah) Thunder meets the Las Vegas Mustangs at 5 p.m., while the Southern Nevada Falcons take on the Southern Nevada Bengals at 8 p.m.

With the win, Green Valley remains alive in the tourney and faces another elimination game at 5 p.m. Thursday.

“We started out very slow yesterday,” Harrison said. “Tonight, we came out with a better mindset and the runs early gave us plenty of confidence. However, we still felt like eight runs wasn’t enough against a good team like Faith Lutheran.”

Green Valley jumped on Faith Lutheran starter Zach Phillips from the opening batter. Carter Gehlken singled and Garrett Nelson and Gavin Amelburu drew back-to-back walks to load the bases.

Gavin Empey produced the first Green Valley run with an RBI single. Gavin Malcolm drove in the second run on a fielder’s choice.

Three pitches later, Ramos ripped a drive to deep right-center field, and Elite had a 5-0 lead.

“Scoring early really helped us,” Harrison said. “It certainly picks up your spirits and you play a lot more relaxed.”

Nelson added two more RBIs, and Julius Perez drove in one for Green Valley, which sent 12 men to the plate in the first.

The rest belonged to Green Valley left-hander Joe DiGiacomo, who scattered five hits and struck out eight in his six innings. DiGiacomo didn’t allow a run until the fifth, as the Crusaders pushed across their two runs. Jacob Ortega’s run-scoring single highlighted the inning for the Crusaders.

“We’ve worked with JoJo about getting three outs at a time, not letting the inning drag and drag,” Harrison said. “Tonight, he did a much better job staying on the task at hand. Even when there were mistakes behind him, he kept it together.”

Carter Ghelken and Nelson each had two hits each for Green Valley, which only had three hits after the first inning. All but one Elite starter scored a run.

Las Vegas Longhorns 3, Las Vegas Spartans 1 — In the first game Tuesday, Forrest Grevelis tossed a four-hitter, as the Longhorns eliminated the Spartans.

The Longhorns did all of their offense damage in the opening inning. Run-scoring singles by Grevelis and Noah Lomeli highlighted the three-run frame.

The Spartans did touch Grevelis for a run in the fifth, on Seth Hoffman’s sacrifice fly.

But that’s all Grevelis would allow, as he earned the complete-game victory. Grevelis struck out eight, but did walk six.

The Longhorns face another elimination game at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

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