LAMAR, Colo. -- On a sweltering, wind-swept afternoon in a nondescript town, Bryce Harper grabbed a bat and took his best shots, and in doing so he authored another colorful tale that will be retold for years by the few who witnessed it.
Harper's brief baseball career at the College of Southern Nevada could have ended Saturday. The 17-year-old from Las Vegas High School is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in next month's major league draft, and he knew that future might be closing in on him.
The Coyotes, who lost earlier in the day, were preparing for the winner-take-all championship game in the double-elimination NJCAA Western District Tournament.
This tiny town is best known for hosting the annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival, and there was a chance it also was about to be remembered as the place where Harper played his final college game.
"That was in my mind. I did not want that to happen," he said. "I came into this game saying, 'I need to pick it up for my team,' and maybe hit a few bombs."
Harper did better than that, hitting four home runs to lead CSN to a 25-11 victory over Central Arizona and launch the Coyotes (49-14) to next weekend's Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
"From the first day, all of us said we're going to Grand Junction. That's our dream, and that's what we're going to do," he said.
Harper also doubled and tripled and finished the game 6-for-6 with 10 RBIs. He homered in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
The 6-foot-3-inch slugger hit for the cycle Friday, and he needed just a single in his final at-bat to do it again. Instead, he ripped a two-run homer to center.
"Some people said, 'He needs a single for cycle.' I said, 'I don't care. I want him to hit another home run,' " CSN coach Tim Chambers said. "Bryce had a great day."
The Coyotes were pushed to the limit after losing 21-14 in Saturday's opener. Willie Johnson, Bryan Karraker and A.J. Schugel each hit two home runs as Central Arizona rolled to a 21-4 lead.
With temperatures in the mid-90s and winds gusting out at about 45 mph, the teams combined for 11 homers in the first game and 10 in the second game.
The Vaqueros (46-20) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of the championship.
"We knew they could hit. We knew they were going to come out fired up, and they did," said Chambers, who guided the Coyotes to their only national championship in 2003. "I didn't panic, and the kids didn't panic when they went up 3-0. We knew we were going to put a bunch of runs up on the board."
Harper's three-run homer, followed by Trent Cook's solo shot, put CSN ahead 6-4 in the second inning. Harper and Cook hit back-to-back homers again in the fifth to increase the lead to 15-5.
"I knew we would come back, and I knew I would stop giving up runs and do my job better," CSN right-hander Kenny McDowall said. "I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to win."
McDowall struck out 11 in six innings to earn the win. Donn Roach and Aaron Kurcz finished the game for the Coyotes, who prevailed in part because they had a deeper pitching staff
Scott Dysinger and Daniel Higa each homered as CSN piled up a season-high 27 hits.
Harper finished 2-for-5 with a three-run double in the first game, when Cook and Trevor Kirk hit the Coyotes' only homers.
Harper, who said the high winds were a "huge factor" in the astronomical offensive numbers for both teams, credited Central Arizona's pitchers for challenging him.
"I felt really comfortable up there, and I knew they were going to come at me. Those kids are competitors, and they want to blow the ball past you," he said. "To have a team come at me like that, it was awesome.
"I'm a little tired. Everybody is tired, but we're all really happy right now."
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.