RENO - Everything seemed to be working out so well for the Dayton High baseball team at the NIAA 3A State Championship.
Nick Bircheff gave the Dust Devils exactly what they needed, pitching six strong innings to help Dayton stay alive in the tournament in a 3-2 win over Truckee on Friday at the University of Nevada's Peccole Park. But how well things went for Dayton against Truckee didn't matter to Spring Creek as the Spartans eliminated the Dust Devils later in the day.
Spring Creek rolled to a 13-3 win in five innings to advance to today's championship round against Virgin Valley. The Spartans shook the field turf from their feet and were able to move on to rout Dayton after being blasted by Virgin Valley 16-0. The Spartans will face the Bulldogs at 10 a.m. today at Western Nevada College's John L. Harvey Field and must win to force another game against Virgin Valley today.
Dayton coach Jay Merrell still had plenty of praise for his team, which ended up third in the state.
"To be one of the last three standing, definitely proud of that and the work these kids put in," Merrell said.
Bircheff struggled at times, walking five and committing three balks, but was able to work through it in large part to his catcher, Ryan Ransdell, who threw out four Truckee runners trying to steal. Ransdell ended up throwing out five baserunners on the day.
Ransdell said he wasn't offended that Truckee kept trying to run on him, but rather he knew it was coming.
"They like to run," Ransdell said. "That was our gameplan coming in, Nick holding them close enough so I'd get a chance."
Bircheff, who is really Dayton's No. 4 pitcher, was also able to save Dayton's No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers in Brandon Aguilera and Connor Oliver for Spring Creek. Bircheff was able to scatter eight hits as he only gave up one earned run. "That was huge for us to keep our two and three fresh," Ransdell said.
The Dust Devils were able to come up with just enough offense against Justin Vosburgh, who struck out seven over six innings in a complete game effort. Dayton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Aguilera doubled and came around on an error and fielder's choice.
Dayton took a 2-1 lead on Tim Doyle's RBI sacrifice fly in the third. In the fourth, Ransdell began what turned out to be the game-winning rally with a single and after Bircheff's sacrifice bunt, scored on Logan Garling's single.
Cory Yoder came on to save it in the seventh and worked around a dropped flyball that allowed Truckee's Pablo Esquivel to reach second to begin the inning. Yoder had two hits and Bircheff and Oliver each added a hit for Dayton.
SPRING CREEK 13, DAYTON 3
The game began ominously for Oliver, who started on the mound, when Dayton dropped a flyball that gave Spring Creek a runner at second to begin the first. David Kimble hit a two-run double and Jake Moser, who had five RBI, hit a two-run triple as Spring Creek to a 5-0 lead.
"Against a quality team like those guys it's really difficult," said Merrell about overcoming a 5-0 deficit to begin the game.
Oliver ended up allowing three earned runs over two innings as the Spartans scored another unearned run in the second to take a 6-0 lead. In the third, Aguilera's RBI double and Yoder's RBI single pulled Dayton to within 6-2.
Aguilera came on in the bottom of the third and was touched for a run that gave Spring Creek a 7-2 lead. Aguilera was pulled in favor of Konrad Perkins in the fourth after Aguilera allowed a walk and Kimble's double. Moser went on to hit a three-run double that gave the Spartans a 10-2 lead.
In the fifth, Aguilera doubled, Yoder singled and Ransdell hit an RBI single to pull Dayton to within 10-3. But Spring Creek ended it in the bottom of the fifth.
Brett Pickett doubled and then Zach Smith hit a two-run home run. After Kimble doubled, Kamas Wing ended it via the mercy rule when he hit an RBI single.
Aguilera doubled twice, Yoder had three hits and Garling, Perkins and Shawn Starks all added a hit. Conor Cdebeca pitched a complete game for the win, striking out five.
"We never laid down," Merrell said. "That's baseball. That's just the way it goes. To beat a quality team like that you've got to have some things go your way and we didn't have stuff go our way."