Las Vegas baseball coach Gino DiMaria was glad to see his team take a one-run lead in the top of the 10th inning Tuesday, but he knew it was too early to celebrate.
DiMaria, whose squad has struggled to hold leads all season, suspected the bottom of the inning would be wild.
He was right.
With the bases loaded, Garrett Hampson hit a one-out fielder’s choice to third base, driving in the winning run and giving Reno a 10-9 victory over Post 40 in the American Legion state tournament at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium
Seventh-seeded Las Vegas was eliminated with the loss, while the No. 6 Knights will play third-seeded Cimarron-Memorial in an elimination game at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“With this team, I’m never comfortable,” DiMaria said. “As fast as we score, we give it up. It’s something we really need to work on.”
DiMaria was particularly frustrated with his team’s numerous mental mistakes, which included several baserunning miscues, two fielding errors, and a pitching staff that allowed eight leadoff base runners.
Las Vegas took control early, as Dustin Cash hit safely in his first four at-bats to help Post 40 take a 6-2 lead in the third inning.
But Reno battled back with three runs on five hits in the fifth, going ahead 7-6 on a wild pitch by Las Vegas reliever Kevin Rocha.
Another rally by the Knights in the eighth inning helped tie the score at 8, and a scoreless ninth sent the game into extra innings.
Post 40 struck first, scoring on a two-out triple by Nolan Cassell to go ahead 9-8 in the top of the 10th.
Reno coach Pete Savage said he wasn’t surprised to see Las Vegas reclaim the lead.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them,” he said. “It’s a reflection of their coaching staff and their players. But we always talk about adversity making us stronger, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
Three consecutive hits by the Knights loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. Post 40 reliever Jose Sanchez managed to retire the next batter, but Hampson followed with a sharp bouncer to third base. Las Vegas third baseman Cassell fired home too late, and the Knights’ celebration began.
“It just happened so fast,” DiMaria said. “Boom, it was done.”
Cash finished 4-for-6 with a triple and two RBIs to lead Post 40, and Cassell helped with a 3-for-6 performance that included three RBIs.
In the winners’ bracket game, Brandon Wulff had a hit and two RBIs to help Bishop Gorman, which earned to a 7-5 victory over Cimarron-Memorial. Nick Gates also had a hit and two RBIs to help the Titans, who made the most of five hits and four Spartans errors.
Gerald Robins was 3-for-4 to lead Cimarron.