Dayton baseball, softball advance to state

Dayton baseball, softball advance to state

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

DAYTON -Dayton baseball coach Jay Merrill and his team are hoping the third time is a charm.

The Dust Devils qualified for their third consecutive Class 3A state championship after knocking off Lowry 5-4 Saturday and sweeping the best-of-three series.

Merrill hopes that this trip to state, which starts Thursday at Western Nevada College, will be better than last year when the Dust Devils committed 18 errors in three games.

"We're more experienced," Merrill said. "We have six guys that have been to state twice already. Offensively we're stronger up and down the lineup than we have been in the past. We have to have a little better approach at the plate. We're going to see good pitching every day."

Brandon Aguilera, who got two of Dayton's three hits Saturday, is confident the Dust Devils can finally break through. Dayton was outhit 6-3 on Saturday.

"We left a lot of runners [seven] on today," he said. "We can win if we continue to hit like we have [before today]. We have great pitching and defense."

Dayton took advantage of the wildness of Lowry starter Jamie Walton in the first and second innings when it scored all of its runs.

In the first, Dayton used three walks, an Aguilera single and an error to take a 1-0 lead.

Logan Garlins reached on an error to open the second inning and was safe at second base when Walton's throw to second on Oliver's sacrifice bunt was too late. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch and Aguilera singled home Garlins to make it 2-0.

Cody Yoder's sacrifice fly scored Oliver to make it 3-0. Konrad Perkins followed with a single that actually scored two runs when the Lowry center fielder bobbled the ball.

Armed with a 5-0 lead, Oliver kept Lowry at bay. Through five innings, he'd allowed just two runs and four hits while striking out five. He appeared to weaken in the sixth, allowing two more runs, one of which came via a homer from Anders Pace which made it 5-4.

"He [Oliver] really impressed me," Aguilera said. "He has a lot of talent."

Yoder came on in the seventh to nail down the save.

DAYTON SOFTBALL ADVANCES

For the first time since 2003, the Dust Devils reached the Class 3A State Tournament after beating Lowry twice on Saturday to win the best-of-three series.

Dayton evened the series with a 4-2 win in Saturday's opener, scoring four times in the fifth to wipe out a 2-0 lead. In the second game, Dayton spotted Lowry a 1-0 lead before scoring once in the third, twice in the fourth and once in the fifth to win 4-2.

"We've battled Fernley the last two years coming down to the wire," Dayton coach Dusti Houk said. "This year we were able to finish it. They [the team] came in very focused. We [the coaches] talked to them and then they had their own talk. They pulled together."

Especially freshman pitcher Mackenzie Cole, who went the distance in both games. In 14 innings, she allowed only eight hits, three runs, two walks and struck out 20.

Houk had told Cole to be ready to throw 14 innings, and she did exactly that.

"I knew I would be a little tired," Cole said. "I wanted to do it for my teammates, wanted to do the job for them."

Lowry took a 1-0 lead on a walk, sacrifice, single and error. Cole allowed only four baserunners the rest of the way.

Dayton tied the game in the third when Sierra Barnwell singled, advanced to second on Mariah Collins' infield out and scored on Brittany Hill's double to left-centerfield.

The Dust Devils snapped the tie in the fourth when Cole reached second on an error when the Lowry center fielder dropped her fly ball. Cole moved to third on an infield out and scored on Melissa Cole's double. Barnwell followed with a single, sending Cole to third. Barnwell broke for second on the next pitch, and Lowry elected to throw down. Cole stormed home on the play to make it 3-1, but Barnwell was thrown out between first and second.

Dayton added an insurance run in the fifth when Hill walked, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Melissa Goetz's single up the middle.

In the opening game, Brittany Burrows' two-run single proved to be the game-winning hit in Dayton's four-run fifth-inning outburst.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

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