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No. 1 Las Vegas High holds off No. 5 Palo Verde in baseball — PHOTOS

Las Vegas High baseball coach Sam Thomas said he liked the energy his team had in the first inning against Palo Verde on Thursday. The Wildcats scored five runs, and their first six batters reached base.

The rest of the game, not so much.

“We came out ready to play,” Thomas said, “and it looked like we settled on a lead.”

Fortunately for Las Vegas, its big first inning was enough, as the Wildcats, No. 1 in the Review-Journal’s Class 5A rankings, fended off No. 5 Palo Verde for a 5-4 home win Thursday.

“On a windy day, everybody’s equal, and it can change like that. It’s just what happens,” Thomas said. “That’s a very talented team over there so it was good for our kids to come out on top, but we need to get better.”

Four Wildcats drove in runs, including starter Dallas Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI while getting the win in 5⅓ innings pitched.

“We just tried to put the ball in play and let the defense decide what happens with the ball,” Martinez said. “(The first inning) was a huge boost, and it helped us out mentally.”

Reliever Carter Francom sealed the win for Las Vegas (16-2-1) after he replaced Martinez in the sixth. First, Francom got Zane Helein and Barrett Johnson to ground out to end the inning for Palo Verde (14-7).

In the seventh, after Jace Jefferies reached on an error to start the inning and Andrew Kaplan drew an intentional walk with one out, Francom struck out Connor Rosinki and got R.L. Chandler to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

“Carter came in, mixed his pitches well and threw strikes,” Thomas said. “We got outs when we needed them, and Carter competed very well today.”

Las Vegas attacked in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Kyle Iverson reached on an infield single, and Tommy Vibabul walked.

Mississippi commit Bryden Bull singled home Iverson, and Joseph Ponticello doubled to score Vibabul and Bull. Ponticello scored when Martinez tripled to center field, then Gage McCown singled to score Martinez as the Wildcats took a 5-0 lead.

“We were getting good pitches to hit,” Thomas said. “We were making good contact. We used the middle of the field, and we capitalized on (Palo Verde’s) mistakes.”

Luke Herrera put Palo Verde on the board in the second inning when he singled home Chandler, and Herrera scored two batters later when Johnson singled down the third-base line. Las Vegas turned a double play to end the inning and keep a 5-2 lead.

Herrera started another Palo Verde push in the fourth when he doubled to bring home Chandler. Herrera later scored on a wild pitch for the Panthers’ final run.

Herrera finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored for Palo Verde.

Thomas said he hopes the win serves as a reminder to the Wildcats that they’ll have to put together complete games in league play.

“We came out ready to play, but we can’t sit on a lead,” Thomas said. “We can’t settle and think that the other team is going to shut down.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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