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Gorman again class of Legion state tourney

American Legion baseball in Southern Nevada always seems to boil down to the same old scenario.

There’s Bishop Gorman, then there’s the rest of the field.

This summer has been no exception as Gorman — playing as the Las Vegas Titans — has steamrolled the competition on the way to a 20-2 league record and a No. 1 seed in the American Legion state tournament.

“Baseball is a game of confidence,” said first-year Titans coach Nick Day, whose squad will open the eight-day tournament today with an 8 p.m. game against eighth-seeded Durango (13-9) at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium. “We’ve been there, and we’ve won.”

Setbacks have been rare, but there have been a few. In fact, the Titans’ image of infallibility took a hit last year when Sierra Vista eliminated them in the semifinals of the state tournament. The Lions went on to win the championship, ending Gorman’s four-year title run.

But Day said his players have not forgotten last year’s mistakes. Even this summer’s losses have offered lessons.

“When you play as many games as we do, it’s easy to come out flat on any given day,” Day said. “Those losses were a good learning experience.”

Opponents would like to see Gorman come out flat in this tournament. Durango and Las Vegas defeated the Titans in the regular season, proving anything is possible.

“Gorman is Gorman,” said Durango coach Tom Appleyard, whose squad beat the Titans 8-5 on May 28. “They’re the best team. They’re very, very good. For anybody to beat them, they’ll have to get some breaks that day.”

But Day sounds like a coach who doesn’t plan on giving opponents any breaks. The Titans won their first national championship in 2008, and the coach said his players have every intention of returning to the American Legion World Series for another try.

Gorman always brings a formidable offense, but Day thinks this year’s difference will be made on the mound.

“It all comes down to pitching,” he said. “I feel like we have enough depth to get us where we want to go.”

Today’s action will begin with a 5 p.m. matchup between No. 4 Las Vegas (14-8) and No. 5 Liberty (14-8). Sunday’s first-round games will feature third-seeded Silverado (14-7-1) against No. 6 Reno (39-12) at 5 p.m., and second-seeded Rancho (16-5-1) against No. 7 Sierra Vista (14-8) at 8.

The double-elimination tournament will culminate with a 7 p.m. championship game July 30, with the winner advancing to next month’s Western Regional tournament in Fairfield, Calif.

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