Las Vegas High’s Sam Thomas and Sierra Vista’s Nate Selby met at home plate Saturday just as they would before any other baseball game. Only one thing was missing: the umpires.
When no umpires showed after several more minutes, the coaches decided not to let the day go to waste. Instead, they played the nonleague game without umpires, with the catchers calling balls and strikes and players and coaches policing themselves on the field.
In the end, Thomas’ 10th-ranked Wildcats emerged with a 7-1 road victory, and more importantly, the team got some work against a quality opponent as it attempts to prepare for the playoffs.
“Guys got some good at-bats.” Thomas said. “We played a good team. I don’t care what the outcome was, it was good to play a nonconference game against a good team.”
The lack of umpires didn’t lead to any controversy, and both teams appeared to be aggressive at the plate, taking some of the burden off the catchers to call balls and strikes.
“I thought both catchers did a good job,” Thomas said. “It’s tough for me to see from where I’m at, but at least our kids weren’t coming back and complaining. I don’t think their kids were, either.”
Thomas got a strong outing by Daniel Ouzts, who threw a four-hitter and needed only 74 pitches in his complete game.
“Daniel threw a great game,” Thomas said. “He had some good outfield play behind him, we had some good defensive plays on the infield, and we got some timely hits. It was good to see.”
The Wildcats (13-10-1) got three runs in the third to take control, keyed by a two-out, two-run double by Ouzts. They added three runs in the fifth, keyed by Dustin Cash’s RBI single, and Charlie Shavers hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth.
“We had some good at-bats, and a lot of them with two outs, which I’m really proud to see,” Thomas said.
Las Vegas has nonleague games remaining against Green Valley and Centennial as it prepares for the playoffs. The Wildcats are 10-0 in the Northeast League but have just three wins outside the league, which has only three teams with winning overall records. Dillon Dove has pitched most of the tougher league games, so Thomas was happy to get Ouzts an outing against seventh-ranked Sierra Vista (19-7).
“To throw him against a team like Sierra Vista that is year in and year out in the playoffs and they know how to play the game right is huge,” Thomas said. “Just like next week, hopefully we get a good outing from somebody other than (Dillon) Dove against Green Valley. And then we’ve got Centennial after that, so if we can get all of our guys some playoff experience before, that counts for a lot.”
Shavers went 3-for-4 with two runs and Tyler Tidwell had two doubles and two RBIs for Las Vegas.
Tyler Burdett went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs for Sierra Vista.
Palo Verde 8, Rancho 5 — At Palo Verde, Grayson Weber went 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs and an RBI to help the Panthers hold off the Rams.
Dylan Dunseath was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs, and Jordan Benson went 2-for-2 with an RBI for Palo Verde, which scored twice in the fifth inning and four times in the sixth to take an 8-3 lead.
Rancho scored twice in the top of the fifth before John Campo got a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Jose Verdugo was 3-for-4 with a triple, a double and three RBIs to lead Rancho.