Rancho pitcher Joshua Mill felt good about his arm during his pregame warm-up Friday, and for good reason.
The Post 8 right-hander dominated for eight innings, leading Rancho to a 7-3 semifinal victory over Basic in the American Legion state tournament at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
The win lifted Post 8 into Saturday’s championship, where they will play Bishop Gorman at 7 p.m.
“From the bullpen I could feel it,” said Mill, who scattered seven hits and struck out 13. “Everything was working, and I had command of all four of my pitches.”
Rancho got a pair of easy runs in the second inning, grabbing a 2-0 lead on a walk, an infield single and a three-base error by the Blue Sox.
“Getting that lead was huge,” Rancho coach Tom Pletsch said. “To get up 2-0 helps you relax a little bit.”
After Post 8 added a run in the fourth, Mill got into a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning. But he struck out two to escape unscathed, and his team rewarded him by scoring another run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to go ahead, 4-0.
“Josh is a senior, and he’s been in these spots,” Pletsch said. “He pitches all our big games because he keeps his composure and he never gets rattled.”
Any doubt was erased in the ninth when Kavion Kealoha, Jose Verdugo and Zach Barnhart had RBI singles to extend Rancho’s lead to 7-0.
Post 8 reliever Kealoha surrendered three runs in the ninth, but David Modler came in to close out the game.
Verdugo, Barnhart, Modler and David Camberos had two hits apiece to lead the Post 8 offense.
Tyler Long and Isaac Perez had doubles for Basic.