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Las Vegas team reaches Legion World Series final

SHELBY, N.C. — A long Monday ended in smiles for the Desert Oasis Aces.

The Nevada state champion got a near no-hitter from starting pitcher Jimmy Gamboa and cruised into the championship game of the American Legion World Series with a 6-1 win over Gonzales (Louisiana) in the semifinals.

Desert Oasis will face Wilmington (Delaware) in the championship game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

In a sense, Desert Oasis was playing its second game of the day after its pool play finale against Randolph County (North Carolina) didn’t end until early Monday morning. But there was no sense of exhaustion from the Nevadans.

“We were full of energy today,” Gamboa said.

Perhaps none more so than Gamboa, who put on the second stellar starting pitching outing of the semifinals. In Monday night’s first game, Wilmington’s Jack Dubecq took a perfect game into the bottom of the seventh inning before Midland (Michigan) rallied to tie the game and force extra innings.

In the second semifinal, Gamboa didn’t have to worry about a perfect game, with Jack Merrifield reaching on an error in the bottom of the first inning for Gonzales (44-7).

Otherwise, Gamboa was cruising for Las Vegas (50-16).

“My fastball, my offspeed (were working). … My offspeed I was just painting, getting them to whiff,” said Gamboa, who struck out nine.

But Gonzales finally got to him in the bottom of the seventh. Preston Thrash’s two-out single broke up the no-hitter and drove in Blaise Foote, who had drawn a leadoff walk.

“I got a little fatigued. At that point I was just trying to get it over the plate as best as I can,” Gamboa said.

“I wanted (the no-hitter) for him,” Desert Oasis coach Paul Buboltz said. “Obviously he’s a big-time pitcher in a big-time spot, I’m sure he’s thinking about it a little bit out there. It’s tough as a 17-, 18-year-old kid in that kind of spot, but he did a phenomenal job all night. … Three pitches for strikes all night, he took care of a good lineup all night.”

It helped that Gamboa’s teammates were hitting the ball.

The Aces pounded out eight hits, including a two-run home run in the fourth by Chaison Miklich.

Desert Oasis chased Gonzales starter Merrifield in the fifth, when a walk to Jordan DeMarce and consecutive singles by Jason Sharman and Parker Schmidt loaded the bases. With two outs, Merrifield walked Aaron Roberts to score Demarce and make it 4-0. Austin Bankert relieved Merrifield but walked Gamboa, to score Sharman, and Zach Czerniawski, to score Schmidt, to make it 6-0.

Gamboa completed the 15th one-hitter in ALWS history.

This is the second consecutive Nevada team to reach the ALWS title game. Basic, with the summer moniker Southern Nevada Blue Sox, won last year’s title.

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