For the first five innings of Thursday’s elimination game against the LV Spartans, the GV Elite hardly looked like the top-seeded team in the Connie Mack state baseball tournament.
Spartans right-hander Derek Decolati held the Elite hitless over the first three innings, and when A.J. Amelburu was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a passed ball in the fourth inning, it appeared the Eliteâs tournament run would end in disappointment.
However, the Elite erupted for six runs in the fifth inning, then held on to eliminate the Spartans, 6-4.
The Elite play the LV Grizzlies in an elimination game at 5 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game will play the Summerlin Panthers in the second elimination game of the day at 8 p.m.
“We just got back to simplifying the game,” GV Elite coach Corey Gehlken said. “We just had a talk with them before the game. These kids know what they need to do.
“We just had a rough game (Wednesday night). Things didn’t go our way in any aspect of the game really, but the (Panthers) played a better game than we did. They came ready to play and we didn’t. So, we told our kids if they want to keep playing, then here is their opportunity. And for the first couple of innings we looked similar to how we did (Wednesday). We finally got things going in that one inning, and we held those guys off to get the win.”
Spencer Cofer’s RBI double broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. Brandon Bayne’s two-run single pushed the lead to 4-0. Amelburu and Matt Gilbertson each had RBIs to make it 6-0. Amelburu went 2-for-3 with two triples and a RBI.
“We’ve been hitting the ball decently all week, but (Wednesday night) the balls we did hit hard, were right at them,” Gehlken said. “We just had some bad luck, and it continued at the start of this game. We had the leadoff triple then a wild pitch, and the ball bounced right back to the catcher. Everything went perfect for them, and it was just another thing that went against us.
“I told the kids those kind of things will happen in baseball and they just have to persevere. Then, we got a break and were able to execute our bunt game, and that opened up some holes. And the guys started swinging the bat a little bit, too.”
The Spartans rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead to 6-3 off Elite starter Justin Caputo. In the top of the seventh inning, Jacob Godman led off with a single, and he scored on Luis Flores’ RBI triple. However, Tyler Heiny shut down the rally to preserve the Elite’s win.
Caputo gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings to earn the win. Heiny induced two popups and struck out one to earn the save.
“In an elimination, must-win game like this against a decent team like Cimarron, it was really important for me to come out and establish the tone, throw a lot of strikes and really just make a good example for this team,” Caputo said.
“If you ask any baseball player, an important thing for us is short-term memory. So, really what I did all day today was not think about baseball at all and come out today. Itâs a fresh new day and I didnât even think about (Wednesday).”
Decolati went 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI to lead the Spartansâ offense.
LV Patriots 2, Summerlin Panthers 0 — Justin Lutes threw a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts as the LV Patriots advanced to the championship round of the tournament.
The Patriots play the survivor of Fridayâs elimination games at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Omar Ortiz drove in the Patriots first run on a sacrifice fly to center field in the first inning, and Michael Wong drove in an insurance run with a RBI single in the fifth inning.
LV Grizzlies 7, LV Bengals 0 — Joey Melinchok threw a six-hit shutout as the Grizzlies eliminated the Bengals.
Melinchok walked one and struck out five.
Bryce Bullock went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, and Nick Rupp went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the Grizzlies.
Luis Lares went 2-for-3 with a double for the Bengals.