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Durango holds off Silverado, captures 4A state baseball title

Updated May 18, 2024 - 6:29 pm

Xander Mercurius said he knew it would only take one game to storm the field and take home the 4A state baseball title against Silverado on Saturday.

He was right.

Durango staved off Silverado’s late-inning rally to win 8-5 at Faith Lutheran and party like it’s 1999 again, the last time they captured the state title.

Mercurius, the junior shortstop, went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run to lead the Trailblazers (26-7).

“Our program is great, honestly. And just being here with this group of guys with the best coaching staff in the nation, we had faith from the start,” Mercurius said.

Silverado (20-14) loaded the bases in the top of the first inning after being hit by two pitches and taking a walk. Preston Clark then grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Hogan Hawkins.

Durango starter Teagan Payne steadied himself afterwards. He was masterful after the first inning, finishing with six strikeouts and two runs allowed in 6⅔ innings.

Trailblazers coach Tommy Rojas said he didn’t plan on his starter going past around 80 pitches, but Payne was too good.

“I didn’t want him to go that high, but the kid looked me in the eye and said, ‘I want to, coach,’ so I couldn’t deny him in a state championship game,” Rojas said.

Payne had no complaints after the game.

“I’m doing great right now, man,” Payne said. “Our hard work day in and day out all paid off in the end. I’m emotional right now. We got our seniors leaving and they’re such a great group of guys.”

Durango, after Payne’s shaky top half of the first, answered in the bottom of the inning by scoring three runs.

Trailblazers junior catcher Jayden Shuford kept the offense going throughout the game. He finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and helped Durango lead 8-1 after six innings.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much. You know, the game got big,” Shuford said. “I just had to slow it down and just put a good swing on the ball and let God do (his) work. We were not playing another game. We knew we were coming in here and we were going to win and we’re going to take it all.”

Silverado did not go out quietly.

Payne was removed with two outs in the seventh inning and the Trailblazers needed two different relief pitchers to end the game.

The Skyhawks scored four runs before Mercurius recorded a final putout to start the Durango celebration.

“You know, they’re a good team over there,” Rojas said. “But we knew that we’re playing good baseball right now. And we knew we could take control if we attacked early and we stayed ahead, and that’s what we did.”

Class 3A state tournament

No. 1S Virgin Valley 12, No. 2S The Meadows 2: At Churchill County, Mason Montoya went 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs as the Bulldogs (31-1) rolled past the Mustangs (27-12) for the state title. Kurt Felix went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBIs to help Virgin Valley. Simon Tesfaye went 2-for-3 with a double to lead The Meadows.

Class 2A state tournament

No. 1S Needles 15, No. 2S Lake Mead 7: At Durango, the Mustangs (28-9) beat the Eagles (23-5) for the state championship. Lake Mead forced a second game after winning the first contest 8-3.

Class 1A state tournament

No. 1N Smith Valley 10, No. 1S Indian Springs 3: At Fernley, the Bulldogs (18-2) won the second championship game to earn the title. The Thunderbirds (21-3) forced the extra game with a 15-4 win in the early game.

Contact Jacob Powers at jpowers@reviewjournal.com. Follow@jaypowers__ on X.

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