Las Vegas baseball coach Sam Thomas sent his players onto to field Friday afternoon hoping to win at least one game.
By the time the night was over, his Wildcats had won three. The last of the three, thanks to a key two-out RBI single by Oliver Haro-Reyes in the sixth inning, helped Las Vegas claim the Mountain Region championship with a 3-1 victory over Arbor View at Centennial.
Las Vegas (27-8) will face Desert Oasis (30-7) in the Southern Nevada championship game at noon Saturday at Bishop Gorman.
“We knew we had to win the first game,” said Thomas, whose team clinched its first state tournament berth since 1971 by beating Palo Verde in the completion of a suspended game. “That’s all we concentrated on. There’s no way we came in here thinking we were going to play three.”
The Wildcats defeated Palo Verde and Arbor View by identical scores of 8-3 to reach the championship, in which they started senior Alejandro Barraza. Barraza was strong, though the Aggies drew first blood on an RBI triple by Jesse Pierce in the fifth.
Starter Brennan Holligan was equally effective for Arbor View (24-11), but the Wildcats tied it in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Joel Lindahl.
Dakota Iverson came on in relief for Las Vegas in the sixth to maintain order.
Holligan, who limited the Wildcats to four hits, nearly escaped a sixth-inning jam that was extended by a failed double-play attempt that gave Las Vegas two baserunners. That’s when Haro-Reyes stepped to the plate.
Haro-Reyes blooped a two-out RBI single to right field, and a second run scored on an errant throw home.
“What a great at-bat that was,” Thomas said. “He battled and absolutely put that ball in play.”
Iverson put the Aggies down in order in the seventh to start the Wildcats’ victory celebration.
“He just did such a great job,” Thomas said. “He completely shut the door.”
Pierce went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI to lead Arbor View.
Las Vegas 8, Arbor View 3 — At Centennial, Daniel Jimenez’s two-run single sparked a six-run fifth inning that lifted the Wildcats by the Aggies in the first title game.
Nathan Freimuth was 3-for-3, and Jose Martinez was 1-for-2 with two RBIs for Las Vegas.
Dillon Jones was 1-for-1 with an RBI for Arbor View.