Sierra Vista tried to steal a run and possibly a win Saturday.
But Bishop Gorman catcher Neil Lawhorn blocked the path to both.
Lawhorn dug a throw out of the dirt, blocked the plate and tagged out the potential tying runner in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the Gaels held on for a 4-3 road win over the Mountain Lions in a pivotal Southwest League game.
The victory locked up the league’s top playoff seed for Gorman (26-3, 14-0), the four-time defending state champion.
“That was probably one of the biggest plays of the game,” Gaels pitcher Cory Welch said. “That block was huge.”
Sierra Vista’s Jake Hager had hit a two-run homer to right-center field in the sixth to cut Gorman’s lead to 4-3, and Marquis Towers and Nick Kingham followed with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with one out.
With the speedy Towers on third, the Mountain Lions tried to steal a run. Kingham broke for second on the pitch, drawing a throw to second from Lawhorn.
Towers took off for home when Lawhorn threw. Joey Gallo’s return throw to the plate was in the dirt, but Lawhorn scooped it up and tagged out Towers.
Welch then struck out Sierra Vista cleanup hitter Julian Cutolo to strand Kingham at second.
“We had a couple guys who can run on the bases, and their guy was throwing pretty good on the mound, so we took a shot at basically trying to steal a run,” Mountain Lions coach Nate Selby said. “Their catcher makes a nice catch and it’s a close play and he’s out.”
Sierra Vista (22-6, 11-2) hadn’t shown much life on offense since the bottom of the first, when Towers singled and went to third on a throwing error before scoring on a Kingham sacrifice fly to tie the game, 1-1.
Gorman got a big blow from T.J. White in the top of the third, when he ripped a two-run homer down the left-field line off Kingham to put the Gaels up for good.
“With an arm like Kingham, you’re not going to get a lot of space,” Gorman coach Chris Sheff said. “Every run and every play and every advancement of a runner is big in a game like this. And to get a two-run blast like that set the tone for us to be leading all day.”
The Gaels added a key insurance run in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Wesley Denzler.
“We still want to play good baseball down the stretch,” said Sheff, whose team has two league games left. “We still need to play well and lock in and get going well heading into the playoffs.”
Sierra Vista has three league games left, including the completion of a game against Spring Valley, which was suspended because of high winds. That game is scheduled to be completed Wednesday.
“They’re plenty good,” Selby said of Gorman. “I hope we see them again.”
Clark 14, Sunrise Mountain 4 — At Clark, Greg McKinney homered and drove in four runs to lead the Chargers past the Miners in six innings.
Mike Quiroz earned the complete-game win, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. He also had a triple.
Travis Pullen was 2-for-4 for Clark.
Ernie Senda went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Sunrise Mountain.
Faith Lutheran 11, Durango 8 — At Durango, Nick Bata had three doubles, two runs and three RBIs to lead the Crusaders past the Trailblazers.
Durango’s Cameron Coombs had a double, two homers and four RBIs.
Beatty 12, Pahrump Valley JV 1 — At Beatty, Shayne Boots went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to help the Hornets to the win in five innings.
Beatty scored 12 runs on five hits.
Tonopah 4, Beatty 2 — At Beatty, Emitt Davis went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and two RBIs to lead the Muckers past the Hornets.
Boots was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for Beatty.