For many players and teams in the Connie Mack state baseball tournament, the adjustment to using wood bats has been a big struggle.
That hasnât been the case for the LV Patriots.
The third-seeded Patriots blasted the seventh-seeded LV Bengals 13-0 in a winners’ bracket game Wednesday at the College of Southern Nevada. The Patriots pounded out 10 hits and batted around in the second and fourth innings in the five-inning rout.
In the Patriots first game in the tournament, they also had 10 hits in an 11-1 five-inning rout of the LV Bulldogs.
“They love swinging the wood bats,” Patriots coach Garrett Kohler said. “During the season, I had to fight them to use the metal bats. If we are losing and can use metal bats, we want to use metal. They don’t mind using wood, and in fact they look forward to it.
“We’ve played some tournaments with wood bats. During the season, there were games when I let them swing the wood bats to get used to it, and it is paying off now. Sometimes you have to sacrifice during the season to get ready for the playoffs, but it’s worth it, and you can see it now. They are very comfortable swinging the wood bats.”
The Patriots will face the Summerlin Panthers at 8 p.m. Thursday in the winners’ bracket final. The winner of that game does not play again until the championship round, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Bengals will play the LV Grizzlies in an elimination game at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The LV Spartans play top-seeded GV Elite at 10 a.m. today in an elimination game.
After jumping out to a 1-0 first-inning lead, the Patriots broke the game open in the second inning on a three-RBI triple by Dante Glover. Justin Lutes and Omar Ortiz each had RBI hits in the second as the Patriots scored six times in the inning.
Lutes went 3-for-3 with a triple, an RBI, a stolen base and two runs to lead the Patriots at the plate. Ortiz doubled, drove in a run, scored a run and stole a base for the Patriots.
“Wood bats have been our favorite tool to use this summer, and its paying off in the playoffs,” Ortiz said. “With the wood bats, you have to try harder and keep the bat through the zone. With metal bats, you can get any hit you want. With a wood bat, you really have to square it up. It’s all mental.”
While the Patriots offense has stolen the show in the playoffs, their pitching has been just as dominant.
Starting pitcher Zach Reed picked up the win Wednesday by shutting down the Bengals’ offense. He allowed one hit and struck out two over four innings. Jordan Moreno struck out the side to end the game in the fifth inning.
Ed O’Bannon allowed one run on four hits and struck out 10 in Monday’s win over the Bulldogs.
“We have a deep pitching staff,” Kohler said. “We have a lot of guys who can pitch, and that helped during the summer. I have nine guys that I’m ready to throw out there and feel comfortable about it. They look live, fresh and ready to go.
“Moreno was hitting 90 today, and O’Bannon was around the same on Monday. That is what we like, guys who throw hard and throw strikes.”
Summerlin Panthers 11 , GV Elite 3 ; Ryan Merino went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and scored a run as the fourth-seeded Panthers shocked the top-seeded Elite.
Brandon Beatty picked up the win for the Panthers, allowing one run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings. He fanned three and walked six.
The Panthers blew the game open by plating five runs in the sixth inning after three Elite pitchers walked five batters. Merino’s two-run single was the only hit of the inning.
Chandler Kochan went 1-for-2 with a double for Panthers.
Matt Gilbertson went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to lead the Elite.