Faith Lutheran freshman Zach Trageton conceded that he didn’t look too good on his first two swings on Friday.
But he made the most of his final hack.
Trageton lined a sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the eighth to score Logan Etherington with the winning run as the Crusaders topped Boulder City 4-3 in the Division I-A state baseball tournament at the College of Southern Nevada.
“I’m known for the first two pitches, I look stupid,” Trageton said. “And then third pitch, I clutch up for the team and knock in a run.”
Faith Lutheran moved into Saturday’s title game with a 2-0 tournament record. The Crusaders play Boulder City (23-11) again at 9 a.m. at CSN. Boulder City, which stayed alive with a 6-1 win over Elko, would have to win twice to claim the crown.
Etherington led off bottom of the eighth with a walk. Alec Goss then hit a high chopper to shortstop Tanner Howell, who fired high to first, allowing runners to go to second and third with no outs.
Faith Lutheran called on Trageton to pinch hit, and the freshman came through with two strikes.
“He’s a great contact guy,” Faith Lutheran coach Blair Neagle said. “He’s like that. He’ll look funny, and then he changes his approach with two strikes. He’s actually better with two strikes.”
Trageton’s liner to center didn’t go particularly deep, but Etherington was able to beat Corbett Fleming’s throw to the plate.
“As soon as I hit it, I was like ‘Oh crap, he caught it,’” Trageton said. “Then I realized there’s a runner on third. He scored, and I was speechless.”
Boulder City took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Bill Barth lined a two-run double to right-center field.
But the Crusaders answered in the bottom of the inning. Greg Sylvester and Erich Uelmen started the inning with back-to-back doubles.
And with one out and Uelmen on third, Caleb Summerhays lifted a foul pop down the left-field line. Third baseman D.J. Koopman ranged back to make the catch, but Uelmen beat the throw to the plate to tie the game.
John Thomas threw two scoreless innings of relief to get the win for Faith Lutheran.
“He’s got some good late movement, and he loves that role,” Neagle said. “He’d rather come in at the end of the game. He’s grown accustomed to it, that’s for sure.”
Boulder City’s Howell was strong on the mound for the Eagles before leaving with one out in the seventh after walking consecutive batters. He allowed six hits and struck out 11.
“They threw their guy,” Neagle said. “Howell, he’s a great competitor and a good pitcher. Whether it was Game 1 or Game 2, just to get by that guy is huge.”
BOULDER CITY 6, ELKO 1 — Freshman Peyton Koopman fired a three-hitter to keep the Eagles alive.
Peyton Koopman struck out three and took a shutout into the seventh before yielding a solo homer to Zackary Armstrong with two outs.
Peyton Koopman was the loser in the opener, but didn’t allow an earned run in an inning of relief.
Howell had a two-run single to key a four-run fourth for the Eagles, who added a pair of unearned runs in the fifth.
Howell finished 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Elko finished 29-5.