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Holding three aces, Cougars like odds

High school baseball coaches often claim to have more than one ace pitcher.

Usually, they don’t.

But when Coronado coach David Padilla says he has three go-to pitchers, he’s not stroking egos. The Cougars have three legitimate top-flight arms, and all three will be challenged when Coronado makes its first appearance in the Class 4A state tournament today in Reno.

“We’ve got three quality guys that we can send out there at any time that we know will give us quality innings,” Padilla said. “And that’s something in high school that is pretty special.”

Coronado (27-8) takes on Reno (26-7) at 6 p.m. today at UNR’s Peccole Park. McQueen (27-6) plays Bishop Gorman (36-3) in the opening game at 3:30.

Padilla will lean on senior Kenny Oakley and juniors Chandler Blanchard and Dylan Myers this week. Oakley, who has signed with UNLV, is 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA. Blanchard is 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA, and Myers is 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA.

“We make each other work harder, because we’re all talented,” Myers said. “It’s fun. We definitely challenge each other each week, see who can do the best, have the best outing.”

For Coronado to have a shot at unseating six-time defending champ Gorman, all three pitchers will need to be at the top of their game. The Cougars also will need to give their pitchers a little cushion.

The Cougars won two one-run games in the Sunrise Region tournament, and another game was tied at 3 going into the final inning before Coronado won, 7-3.

“We’re going to have to get hitting out of our whole lineup,” Padilla said. “From top to bottom, you’re going to have to hit, because everybody is going to have pitching now. There’s only four teams left, and they’re left because they have pitching, they have arms.”

While Gorman has become a fixture in the state tournament, it’s a new experience for Coronado.

“This week, it’s just the unknown for us,” Padilla said. “We’ve never been in it. We don’t really know what to expect from these other baseball players. When we were playing the Silverados and Green Valleys, we knew what to expect. We haven’t seen Reno except in their summer program, and they’re pretty darn good. We haven’t seen McQueen at all, and everyone reads about Gorman, so we know what they have. But we haven’t played them.”

Oakley said he’s looking forward to seeing some unfamiliar foes.

“I’m excited to pitch against a team I’ve never even seen play before,” Oakley said. “It’s always fun playing against people you’ve never seen. It’s a new challenge, too.”

And Oakley would be glad to shock those who don’t think Coronado has a chance to win the title.

“At the beginning of the season no one thought we’d do this,” Oakley said. “People still don’t think we should be where we are. But who cares? That’s why we’re out here working.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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