I-A BASEBALL: Koopman throws six hitless innings, leads Boulder City to championship

With the Division I-A Southern Region title on the line, Boulder City senior right-hander Peyton Koopman turned in a dominant performance on the mound.

Koopman didn’t allow a hit over six shutout innings and struck out 12 on Saturday as the Eagles defeated Sierra Vista, 5-1. The Mountain Lions rested multiple starters after winning a nine-inning game late Friday to advance to the championship.

“I felt great out there,” Koopman said. “I mainly started them with the fastball, and my off-speed was working well today. I just did everything possible to keep them off balance.”

Zach Murphy allowed a run on one hit in the seventh for Boulder City.

Koopman wasn’t fazed by being taken out of the game with a no-hitter on the line. He threw 96 pitches, and combined with the heat of a noon start, he was ready to let Murphy take over the no-hit bid in the seventh.

“I was done (after the sixth inning),” he explained. “I wasn’t feeling good, so I said let someone else finish it. I’m feeling really good now.”

The win ensures the Eagles (25-7) will play the No. 2-seed from the North in the state tournament on Thursday in Reno. Boulder City went to the state tournament last year as the No. 2 seed from the South, and was promptly swept out of the tournament. Reese is hoping for a better experience this year.

“Last year, we went 0-2. This year, we’ve told the kids we want to get back, and we don’t want to be the two and barbecue team,” Reese said. “Hopefully, we can play better than we did last year. We had a good week this week, and hopefully, we can carry that momentum up there with us next week.”

Koopman said his teammates learned during last season’s state tournament what it takes to be successful: play clean, stay focused and do a better job with pitch selection at the plate.

“We need to keep playing the way we’ve been during this regional tournament,” he said. “We’ve been playing solid, the best baseball we’ve played all year, and we just have to keep that rolling through. We can always get better on defense and with our pitch selection. If we keep working on those, we should be good.”

The Eagles took control with four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Michael Morelli’s two-run single was the big blow that put the Eagles up 4-0.

Sierra Vista (19-18) managed its lone run in the seventh inning after Nicholas Lasker reached on an error, then scored after the Eagles misplayed Braxton Anderson’s single.

The Mountain Lions, who claimed a spot in the state tournament by eliminating Faith Lutheran 6-3 in nine innings Friday night, chose to rest many of their regular starters. Sierra Vista head coach Justin Sherman said after that game, he wanted to rest his players for the state tournament.

“A regional championship would be nice, but we’ve got state coming up and we’re not going to burn any of our guys,” he said Friday night.

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