For the third time in less than 10 days, Las Vegas pitcher Jesse Acosta faced Liberty.
This time, however, it was on a bigger stage, in the first round of the American Legion state tournament Saturday at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
Acosta rose to the occasion, striking out 13 in 6 2/3 innings, as Las Vegas rolled to a 17-4 victory.
Acosta’s offense gave him plenty of support, totaling 21 hits — including 10 for extra bases. Robert Melendez and Marcus Mejia homered for Las Vegas.
“That’s been our calling card all season, hitting the baseball,” Las Vegas coach Gino DiMaria said. “We have had games like this during the year, and I hope we continue to play this way.”
Las Vegas (21-14) advanced to Monday’s 8 p.m. game against Bishop Gorman. Liberty (21-10) will meet Durango at 5 p.m. Monday.
Action continues in the tournament today, as Silverado faces Reno at 5 p.m. and Rancho takes on defending state champion Sierra Vista at 8.
Liberty reached Acosta (8-1) for a run in the first inning on Marcos Rivera’s RBI double. But Acosta retired the next 10 batters, and the Las Vegas offense came to life, scoring 10 unanswered runs.
“Jesse has been the workhorse for us all season,” DiMaria said. “It’s tough to go against a team three times in such a short span, but he did a great job.”
Acosta’s RBI single in the bottom of the first tied the score at 1, and Las Vegas broke open the game in the third. Brady Page, Acosta and Justin Cheney had RBIs in the four-run inning.
Melendez’s two-run homer capped the scoring in a four-run fourth that put Las Vegas up 9-1. Mejia’s solo shot in the fifth pushed the cushion to 10-1, before Las Vegas scored seven in the sixth.
“If we keep hitting the ball like we did today, we should be in good shape,” DiMaria said.
Cheney led Las Vegas’ offense with four hits, and Acosta and Page had three hits each. Rivera and Danny Topps each had two of Liberty’s nine hits.
Bishop Gorman 12, Durango 6 — Joey Gallo hit his team-leading 15th home run to help lift top-seeded Gorman.
Gallo and Johnny Sewald each had three hits for Gorman (39-7-1), while A.J. Van Meetren and Kenny Meimerstorf had two each.
Will Morris and Michael Sukeyasu each homered for Durango (40-31-1).
Cody Roper (8-0) pitched five innings to earn the win.