Trailing by three runs after two innings in Thursday’s winners bracket final, Desert Oasis looked liked a team making its first appearance in the Class 4A state baseball tournament.
But then the Diamondbacks played like a team more than used to shining in big moments.
They rallied with three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and defeated Reno 8-6 at Las Vegas Ballpark to make the state final.
Desert Oasis (33-7) will play either Reno (30-6) or Las Vegas (30-10) for the championship at 4 p.m. Friday at Las Vegas Ballpark. If the Diamondbacks lose, there will be a winner-take-all game at 7.
“We never really worry when we’re down,” said Desert Oasis catcher Parker Schmidt, who went 1-for-5 with three RBIs and a run. “We don’t panic because we know we can hit. We just kept with it and got the big hits in the end.”
Desert Oasis coach Paul Buboltz said he hasn’t decided on his starting pitcher for the title game. He has excellent options in right-handers DJ Jefferson (3-2, 3.39 ERA) and Aaron Roberts (6-1, 1.84).
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that are pretty good out there on the mound, so we’ve got some guys to choose from,” Buboltz said.
The Diamondbacks almost put themselves in a situation that would have tested their pitching depth. If they had lost to Reno, they would have had to win three consecutive games Friday to capture the title.
Reno took a 4-1 lead in the second inning on RBI hits from Garret Damico, Gunner Gouldsmith and Caden Grogan and a run on a fielder’s choice. The Huskies took a 5-3 lead into the sixth.
Desert Oasis had the bottom of its order coming up, but finding weak spots in its lineup is not easy. Those bottom three batters finished 5-for-6 with an RBI and four runs.
Josh Sharman and Colton Zobrist led off with singles, and Jordan DeMarce sacrificed them into scoring position.
“The 7-8-9 guys for us today were huge,” Buboltz said.
Schmidt then delivered a two-run single to tie the game.
“They were pounding curveballs, so I sat back on one and drove it up the middle,” Schmidt said.
Colby Smith followed with a run-scoring double to put the Diamondbacks ahead for good.
“I was just doing what I could to get on base and do what I could to score that run,” said Smith, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI and run. “That was big.”
Playing in the state tournament is a new experience for Desert Oasis, but a good chunk of the players know what it’s like to be in pressure games. Many played on last year’s American Legion World Series runner-up team.
They won’t be satisfied with second place Friday.
The Diamondbacks are in the championship game, and they want to make the most of it.
“It means everything,” Smith said. “It’s so fun, and it’s exciting to have this opportunity to make school history.”
— Oliver Haro-Reyes’ two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Leonel Anaya with the winning run as Las Vegas defeated Arbor View 5-4 in the losers bracket semifinal of the Class 4A state tournament at Las Vegas Ballpark.
— Boulder City’s Jimmy Dunagan singled home Matthew Felsenfeld with the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Eagles edged Churchill County 5-4 in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament in Mesquite.