BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - In a game that already wasn't pretty - Reno and Green Valley combined for nine errors - Huskies senior Keegan Peterson and his team got off to an ugly start defensively, giving up seven runs in the first two innings.
But the Huskies' offense was alive and well (it came back with four runs in the first inning to tie it and added two more in the second to cut the lead to 7-5) and Peterson found the same mojo that had allowed him to go 9-0 headed into Thursday's NIAA Class 4A State Championships.
The Huskies broke through with five runs in the third inning, Peterson got victory number 10 and Reno took an 11-9 victory over the Gators at Peccole Park to improve to 30-6.
Reno will face Bishop Gorman, a 7-6 victor over Bishop Manogue, in today's winner's bracket at 1 p.m. Manogue-Green Valley is at 1 p.m. and an elimination game begins at 4 p.m. All games will be held at Western Nevada College.
"I can't say enough about Keegan," Reno coach Pete Savage said. "He threw 38 pitches in the first inning - with good defense, he throws 12. It's a sign of a good pitcher to recover and turn it around on the mound. He's been an absolute winner all year long."
Peterson ended up throwing 123 pitches, 80 for strikes, over 6-plus innings before closer Cavin Hill came in and sealed the deal and drop Sunrise Region champion Green Valley to 32-6.
Peterson gave up nine runs (eight earned) and 11 hits, walked two and struck out four.
"What we define as mental toughness is being able to turn adversity into good...Green Valley is a good hitting team with a potent offense," Savage said. "Keegan shut them down (in the third through sixth innings). He was able to get up two strikes in the middle of the game to turn a negative into a positive."
And that the Huskies pounded out 15 hits didn't hurt matters, either. Junior catcher Shawn Walters (2-for-4) led his team with three runs batted in, the last a single that made it 10-7 in the third inning.
"We had to capitalize on all of the errors they made, they capitalized on ours," said Walters, whose sacrifice fly cut the Gators' first-inning lead to 4-1. "We laid off low pitches in the dirt and offspeed and fastballs on the corner. I just saw the ball up and laid off the offspeed and tried to drive runs in."
Mission accomplished. Designated hitter Tom Jameson (2-for-4) added two RBI and left fielder Drew Simpson (2-for-3), first baseman Pat Gallagher (2-for-5) and shortstop Austin Nyman (1-for-4) each contributed one.
And the key word for Reno was "contribution." Reno played the definition of team baseball, with player after player stepping up.
"It's exactly what our team is made up of -there are no superstars," Savage said. "Everybody contributed. Austin Nyman had some good plays at shortstop, Hill coming in and playing his role. We're a team."
"We almost think of it like we don't even want numbers," Walters said. "We just want to play with the (team's name) name on the front, not (the players' names) on the backs. This team has great chemistry. We're all together."
The Gators, who committed six of the game's nine errors, rallied for two runs to make it 11-9 in the top of the seventh inning, but Hill forced Chad Whiteaker into a groundout at short and struck out John Carra to end the game.
"It was definitely not a very beautiful game, but I was proud of our offense," Savage said. "They stayed in there battling. When you're battling offensively, good things happen."
The game was halted for 22 minutes in the seventh inning when right fielder Griffin Kirsch suffered an apparent concussion. An ambulance and a fire truck showed up, but Griffin elected to walk off the field under his own power.
Joe Robinson took the loss for the Gators, giving up 10 runs (five earned) and nine hits in two-plus innings for Green Valley.
Next up is two-time defending state champion Gorman, which is ranked No. 2 by Baseball America and Perfect Game, No. 3 by Rounding Third and No. 6 by Maxpreps.com.
"Gorman is a very talented club," Savage said. "We have a lot of respect for them. It should be a good ballgame."
BISHOP GORMAN 7, BISHOP MAN0GUE 6
The High Desert League champion Miners railed from a 4-1, fifth-inning deficit to take a 6-4 lead, but coughed up three runs in the seventh and final inning to take the loss and fall to 28-9.
Starter Joe Wieland, who entered the game 7-2 with an 0.87 earned run average, held the potent Gaels hitless over three innings as Manogue clung to a 1-0 lead.
Wieland, a San Diego State signee, struck out Johnny Field to open the seventh before walking Jeff Malm and John Rickard.
Darin Wiltgen came on in relief with runners on first and second, but gave up a game-tying triple to Brandon Garcia. After striking out Paul Sewald, Wiltgen threw a wild pitch past catcher Tim Lewis on a 1-2 count and Garcia came home to improve the Sunset Region champion Gaels to 39-3 on the season.
"I think our club has been through it before. We've been down, too," said Gorman coach Chris Sheff. "We're tough - we scrapped. I give credit to their club. I thought we might be able to knock Joe out in the fifth, but he gets a double play and settles down. We teach these guys to keep scrapping and fighting. The great thing about baseball is that there's no clock."
"I called for the pitch down there," Miners coach Charles Oppio said of Wiltgen's offering. "Lewis is a great catcher. He's been down there all year. It was a tough pitch to handle. It was a tough loss. We battled. I'll take our chances with anyone with Joe on the mound. He pitched his heart out. We just couldn't get the last two outs."
Gorman reliever Jeff Malm got the win, while starter Donn Roach (8-0) got the no-decision, going five-plus innings in which he gave up three earned runs, six hits and three walks. He also hit two batters and struck out seven.
Weiland went 6 1/3, allowing six earned runs, six hits and five walks. He struck out four and hit two batters.
"We have a huge uphill fight," Oppio said. "We just have to come out and win a ballgame."
For Sheff, it was just another example of his players finding a way to win.
"In the (first Sunset) regional game, we lost 2-1 to Palo Verde. I didn't have to give any speeches when it was over," Sheff said. "That's the attitude you saw today. Being down two runs going into the last inning - our guys just responded."