Bonanza had two come-from-behind baseball wins over Bishop Gorman during last week’s Sunset Region tournament.
But the Gaels wasted little time taking control Friday, and this time, they held the lead.
Cadyn Grenier and Michael Blasko hit back-to-back home runs to start the game, and Gorman went on to beat Bonanza 10-1 in the Division I state baseball tournament at College of Southern Nevada.
“It was awesome, especially the way Bonanza’s had our number,” Gaels coach Nick Day said. “To come out early and make a statement right off the bat (was great).”
Seeking its eighth straight state title, Gorman (33-7-1) plays Coronado (33-4) in the championship round at 1 p.m. today at CSN.
Coronado, which stayed alive Friday night with a 12-2 win that eliminated Bonanza, would have to win twice to claim the championship.
Grenier drove the second pitch of the game over the fence in left, and Blasko followed with a long shot to left-center for his second homer of the tournament, and the Gaels were in control.
“It just felt good to get off on the right page,” Blasko said. “But we knew we had to put up more, because two’s not enough to beat Bonanza.”
This time, there would be no late-game comeback by Bonanza. Gorman freshman Jack Little went the distance for the win, scattering six hits and striking out four.
“Getting Jack a lead was huge,” Day said. “Because once he has the lead, he’s tough to score a lot of runs on. It’s tough to have a big inning against Little.”
Gorman continued to pad its lead, scoring four runs in the third on RBI singles by Blasko and Cole Krzmarzick and three Bonanza errors. The Gaels added two runs in the fifth on a two-run single by pinch hitter Matt Hudgins to make it 8-0.
After Bonanza scored in the fifth on Cruz Nevarez’s RBI groundout, Gorman tacked on two in the seventh to help prevent a comeback. Willie Jumper drove in both runs with a single to center.
“The early runs are big,” Day said. “It sets the tempo of the game for us, but our problem last week and all season has been keeping the pressure on. So adding a few more at the end was really nice to see.”
Blasko said the team did a better job of maintaining intensity against Bonanza this time. The Bengals had beaten Gorman in three of four meetings before Friday.
“They’re just a great team at that,” Blasko said of Bonanza’s comebacks. “They never quit. They got us a couple times, so it felt really good to hold our lead and hold them to one run.”
The Gaels are confident in their attempt to extend their state title streak.
“It’s been a long, challenging season with a new group of guys,” Blasko said. “But we feel like we’re playing our best baseball right now and just can’t wait to try to go win a game tomorrow and go win state.”
Blasko said the team isn’t burdened by the streak, and being the last unbeaten team in the double-elimination tournament certainly helps the team relax.
“Off the field, there’s pressure because you talk to all your friends and stuff,” Blasko said. “But on the field, it’s just playing baseball. It’s fun. We have a lot of confidence in our team, so we feel good.
“If we could play the game, we would play it right now. We’re just anxious to play it and get that eighth straight state championship.”
■ Coronado 12, Bonanza 2 — The Cougars blasted three homers and scored in all but two innings en route to the win.
Mike Maiello, Chandler Blanchard and Jackson Cofer had home runs for the Cougars. Cofer’s two-run shot highlighted a seven-run sixth inning that allowed the Cougars to end the game via the 10-run rule.
“They came out and swung the bat, big time,” Coronado coach David Padilla said. “That’s what we need to do. We’ve got to keep pressure on them. Whenever you’re in the losers’ bracket, you just try to keep the pressure on the other team as much as possible.”
Padilla said his team has enough pitching left to go two games today.
“We’ve got to come out and play high energy just like Gorman does in the first (game),” Padilla said. “We can’t let them jump out to a big lead.”
Brett Doyle had a two-run triple for Bonanza, which finished 20-16.
■ Coronado 9, Reno 4 — The Cougars erupted for four runs in the first inning and held on to eliminate the Huskies (26-10).
Julian Burrola was 3-for-4 with a homer run, a double and two RBIs for Coronado, which led 8-0 before Reno broke through in the fifth with four runs, all with two outs.
Garrett Hampson started the Reno rally with a two-run homer, and the Huskies added two unearned runs.
Michael Pollex was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Chandler Blanchard, James Anderson and Cain Brady each added two hits for the Cougars, who got a solo homer by Michael Maiello.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.