Las Vegas Mayhem junior Hector Perez doesn’t even have his driver’s license yet.
But on Wednesday the 16-year-old showed enough poise and maturity to drive in the winning run with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Mayhem to a 3-2 win over Green Valley Elite, in the winners’ bracket semifinal of the Connie Mack state tournament at CSN’s Morse Stadium.
The diminutive shortstop laced a 1-0 fastball to left field, scoring Eddie Ojeda from third base to lift the Mayhem (20-3), who are loaded with high school seniors and two college players on an 18-man roster.
“I knew (the pitcher) was nervous, so I had to stay calm; I had to dominate,” Perez said. “I saw it, drove my hands through it and hit right in the hole.”
Perez finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“He grew up today,” Mayhem coach Gino DiMaria said. “He was clutch for us, and he is someone to watch the next few years.”
The Elite were cruising with a 1-0 lead early, as Jimmy Montiel fired four scoreless innings until the Mayhem tied it in the bottom of the fifth inning. Green Valley took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Drake Maningo’s squeeze bunt brought home Jarod Penniman, but the Mayhem tied it when Cruz Nevarez singled to left to plate Perez.
Penniman led the Elite, going 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored, and teammate Jake Leonard was 2-for-2.
“Green Valley came to play; from the first pitch to the last pitch, they were in the game,” DiMaria said. “They’re a talented team. We caught some breaks. Early in the game we hit some hard balls but we hit it right at ‘em. So I was thinking ‘keep swinging the bats, we’ll find our holes;’ we didn’t and we got a little bit worse. We’ve been through this a couple times during the season in some big tournaments we went to, and they find a way to get it done.”
The Mayhem will meet the Las Vegas Crusaders (17-7) at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the winner moving on to Saturday’s championship. The Elite (17-7) face the Las Vegas Mustangs (14-10) in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Las Vegas Crusaders 5, Southern Nevada Falcons 4 — Jake Koentopp’s double down the right-field line brought home two runs in the top of the 10th inning, as the Crusaders upended the top-seeded Falcons in the day’s final game.
The Falcons (21-3) loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th with none out, but managed only one run. The Crusaders led 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh until the Falcons’ Austin Parentau scored the tying run on an infield grounder by Bligh Madris.
The Falcons will face the Las Vegas Grizzlies (14-10) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Las Vegas Mustangs 4, Las Vegas Bulldogs 3 — The Mustangs took advantage of three errors in the last two innings to overcome a 3-0 deficit, scoring two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Isaiah Blaylock fired a complete game for the Mustangs, scattering six hits and striking out six. Dustin McDonald went 2-for-2 with two walks and an RBI, and Anthony Reese was 1-for-3, got hit by a pitch and had two RBIs.
McClain O’Connor went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the Bulldogs (14-10), who were eliminated.
Las Vegas Grizzlies 2, Summerlin Panthers 1 — Nick Rupp tossed an eight-hitter and struck out 11 to lead the Grizzlies by the Panthers (14-9) in an elimination game.
The southpaw helped his own cause, going 2-for-2 with a walk. Bryce Bullock was 2-for-3 with a two RBIs for the Grizzlies.
Trevor Jackson threw a complete game for the Panthers (14-9), allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out six.