CARSON CITY — Brent Horlacher was confident his luck would eventually change on Thursday.
“I got some bad breaks, and our team had some bad breaks,” the Virgin Valley first baseman said. “It seemed like every time we hit the ball hard it was right at somebody.”
The Bulldogs’ fortunes improved in the bottom of the ninth inning when Horlacher drilled an RBI single for a 3-2 victory over Dayton in the Class 3A state baseball tournament opener at Western Nevada Community College.
Virgin Valley plays Spring Creek, a 4-1 winner over Truckee, at 1 p.m. today at UNR’s Peccole Park with a berth in Saturday’s state championship game at stake.
“He deserved that,” Bulldogs coach Boyd Wittwer said of Horlacher’s winning hit. “He hit the ball very hard in the seventh inning with a runner on second that could have won the game, but it was caught.”
Horlacher was 0-for-4 before his line-drive single to left field off Dayton starter Cory Yoder in the ninth.
“We just knew we had to keep fighting to win this game,” Horlacher said.
Virgin Valley’s ninth-inning heroics started with a double to left field by leadoff hitter Sean Shimizu with one out.
It was Shimizu’s fifth hit of the game, as he came within a home run of hitting for the cycle. Shimizu singled in the first, fourth and seventh innings and tripled in the third.
“The last couple weeks Sean has just been terrific,” Wittwer said. “He has been doing anything and everything he can with the bat to help his team win.”
Shimizu advanced to third on a windblown double by Jason Wittwer that Dust Devils right fielder Donald Somers initially appeared to be camped under, forcing Shimizu to hold up at second.
Dayton then intentionally walked Travis Leavitt to load the bases, bringing up Horlacher.
Shimizu’s triple in the third scored Jonathon Gleave to tie the game 1-1. The senior later scored in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Leavitt for a 2-1 Virgin Valley lead.
The Dust Devils tied the game 2-2 in the fourth on a double by Konrad Perkins, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly by Nick Bircheff.
Virgin Valley starter Anthony Morris went five innings and allowed two runs.
The Bulldogs advanced to the winners bracket despite making four errors and getting three runners picked off first.
• CLASS 1A BASEBALL — At Wells, Gabe Douglas pitched a complete game, drove in four runs and scored three times to lead defending champion Calvary Chapel to a 12-7 victory over Smith Valley in the opening game of the Class 1A state baseball tournament.
Corey Welch, T.J. White, Cameron Harper and Zack Vergiels each went 3-for-4 for the Lions, who will play Pahranagat Valley at 1 p.m. today.
The Panthers advanced to the winners bracket with a 12-0 victory over Virginia City.
• CLASS 1A SOFTBALL — At Wells, Carlin scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead and held on to defeat Mountain View 6-5 in the first round of the Class 1A state softball tournament.
Lindsey Gross went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Saints, who will play Wells in a losers bracket game at noon today.