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Palo Verde rides pitcher to 5A state baseball title game — PHOTOS

Updated May 17, 2024 - 9:07 pm

Palo Verde starter Mayson Reichartz made sure his team wouldn’t have to play another game on the second day of the Class 5A state baseball tournament at Faith Lutheran.

With temperatures reaching triple digits for the first time this year, Reichartz and the Panthers avoided playing again in the scorching sun and gained extra time to prepare for the state championship game.

Reichartz, a senior left-hander, threw 6⅓ shutout innings for No. 1-seeded Palo Verde, which blanked Coronado 4-0 in a winners’ bracket semifinal Friday.

Palo Verde (27-10) will play Northern champion Reno High (27-10) at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bishop Gorman for the state title. Reno must defeat Palo Verde twice to claim the title.

“It feels amazing (to play for a state title),” Reichartz said. “It’s been a dream of mine through all of high school, and I’m glad we got to do it this year.”

Reno won two elimination games Friday to reach the title game. The Huskies edged Bishop Manogue (21-15), the North’s No. 2 seed, by a 3-2 score, then defeated Coronado, the South’s No. 2 seed, 6-2 after the Cougars (23-15) lost to Palo Verde.

Reichartz struck out six and scattered four hits and three walks on 98 pitches to give Palo Verde its second shutout of the tournament.

“Mayson put us in a really good position,” Palo Verde coach Dustin Romero said. “The best thing about Mayson today was he was around the zone all day. With his stuff, him being confident and the defense behind him, they came through.”

Third baseman Drew Kaplan went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and recorded the final two outs on the mound for Palo Verde. Shortstop Ethan Clauss added two hits, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.

“Drew has been big all year. He’s one of our seniors that has this fire that cannot be replicated,” Romero said. “Him coming through in certain situations to extend our lead, get the lead and throw strikes at the end, he’s been one of our anchors all year.”

Supporting Reichartz

Clauss led off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second on a stolen base. Kaplan drove in Clauss on an RBI single to put Palo Verde ahead 1-0.

Kaplan added to the lead in the fourth when he singled to bring home Tanner Johns, who led off the inning with a triple. Clauss added an RBI double in the fifth, and pinch runner Branson Pullan scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

“Knowing the lineup we have, it’s easy to go out there and pitch with a lead since they put up runs,” Reichartz said.

Palo Verde’s defense also came through for Reichartz. In the fourth, left fielder Jace Jefferies made a diving catch on a fly ball and doubled up Coronado’s Michael Cortez at first. Right fielder Karsen Smaka had a diving catch in the fifth.

“It helps a lot knowing (the defense) is going to be there for me no matter what,” Reichartz said. “They’ll make the double play, catch the fly balls, and it helps me be very confident.”

Romero said the Panthers will start Johns on the mound for the title game. He last pitched in the region playoffs May 8 in a 3-1 win over Coronado. He allowed one run in a complete-game effort to clinch the Panthers’ spot in the state tournament.

“I don’t think there’s anybody we’d rather see on the mound (Saturday) with what we have,” Romero said. “We’re very confident. We’re very happy to be where we are, and we look to finish.”

Reno downs Coronado

Reno made Coronado pay for an ugly first inning. The Cougars committed two errors, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch to give Reno a 4-0 lead.

The Huskies scored another run in the third, aided by an error, a hit batter and two walks. They added another run in the fourth off another error.

Coronado couldn’t get to Reno starter Mack Edwards, managing three hits through six innings.

Brigham Bleazard hit a two-run single in the sixth for Coronado’s runs. Cortez went 2-for-4 with two infield singles for the Cougars, who defeated Reno 5-4 Thursday in the first round.

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

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