Wave captures DI-A state championship
The Fallon baseball team won the program’s 10th overall championship on Saturday over Faith Lutheran.
Fallon leads all Nevada schools followed by Virgin Valley (nine) and Bishop Manogue, Green Valley, Needles, Rancho and Bishop Gorman, all with eight.
LAS VEGAS — Five straight playoff berths, four state tournaments, three state final appearances, two titles and one state record.
Oh, and one proposal.
On Saturday, the Fallon baseball team dropped nemesis Faith Lutheran, 11-8, in the second game to claim the program’s second Division I-A title under coach Lester de Braga and a Nevada record 10th overall championship at Las Vegas High School. It is also the program’s first title since 2011.
After a 16-0 loss to the Crusaders to open the day, Fallon refocused and took the fight to Faith Lutheran, the two-time defending state champs who beat Fallon, 9-2, in last year’s final.
“Just being the team and the kids we got, they battled,” de Braga said. “From day one, we’ve tried to coach them that they were the better team at all times. What came in to play was the confidence.”
What appeared to be a runaway win for the Greenwave became an all out scramble in the final two innings.
Leading 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Crusaders tagged Alex Mendez for five runs to tie the game.
“I had no more energy,” he said. “Sometimes when you don’t perform there is someone right behind you, and that is what Dylan (Jabines) did. He got that ‘W’.”
But Fallon didn’t crumble.
Dalton Frank led off the top of the seventh inning with a single to center and with one out, Tyler Bagby, who started on the mound and went three innings, laced a triple down the third base line to score Frank.
“I took the first pitch I saw and pulled it down the line,” Bagby said. “I knew right then and there that was going to be the win.”
With two outs, Branden Beeghly smacked a single to left field to drive in Bagby. Trae Workman, who started in left field and went 3-for-5, notched his third hit of the game with a single to right to move pinch runner Sage Orozco to third.
After a pitching change, Orozco scored on a passed ball to give Fallon a three-run cushion.
Still, the tension was tight, but Jabines sealed the win forcing a weak grounder to second baseman Jack Swisher to give Fallon its record-setting state title.
“I was relaxed and as soon as I was on the bump (mound), I knew I had it,” Jabines said. “I knew if I just kep the ball low I would either get a pop-up or a grounder. That’s exactly what I did.”
Fallon’s chase to the title started after last season’s loss in the final. The win, many of the players said, was even sweeter against Faith Lutheran since the Crusader’s have stung Fallon in the 2013 state final in football and the 2014 baseball championship.
Many of this year’s crop of baseball players were on both teams and those demons were exorcised with the heart-pounding win.
“A lot of hard work paid off,” Frank said. “We knew it was going to be a fight. It was a race to the finish. It’s really sweet, it tastes good.”
Bagby said he wanted the ball to start the second game after the humbling loss to open the day. Having pitched less than five total innings all season, the senior gave the Wave 3.1 solid innings and allowed just two runs against the potent Crusaders lineup.
“I wanted the ball and the start,” Bagby said. “My grandma died in August and I made one promise to her, and that was to win a state title.”
With an all-hands-on-deck mentality, Bagby was lifted for Mendez in the fourth inning. Mendez, who earned the win in a 4-3 victory over Faith Lutheran on Thursday to clinch a berth in the state final, threw until he had nothing left.
The Crusaders were sparked by a pair of two-run singles from Josh Harmony and Brandon Davis.
Although Fallon was throwing every available pitcher, so were the Crusaders. Faith Lutheran used five pitchers, but they couldn’t slow the Wave machine.
Workman had a pair of RBIs, while third baseman Riley Williams belted a two-run home run over the right-field fence in the fifth inning to give Fallon a 6-2 lead.
“It just went for me,” Williams said. “I feel like it definitely amped up our team and it helped a lot. We knew we could come back (from the first game). It was definitely way sweet to get back at Faith Lutheran.”
Fallon opened the scoring with one run in the second on a RBI single by Workman and added three runs in the third, which was kick started by Swisher.
The sophomore singled and was followed by a walk by Frank. Bagby drove in Swisher and Jabines singled to score Frank. Bagby crossed home after he barreled through the Faith Lutheran catcher for a 4-0 lead.
Fallon added one run in the fourth after Jabines doubled to right and scored on an error.
The Wave pushed the lead to 8-2 in the top of the sixth when Sage Mori scored on an error and Cameron Beyer, who pinch ran for Beeghly after a single, scored on a RBI single by Joe Pyle.
“I can’t pinpoint just one kid,” de Braga said. “Our whole lineup, I just can’t say enough. We were built for this.”
Fallon opened the tournament with an 8-3 win over Boulder City on Thursday followed with a nail-biting 4-3 win over the Crusaders. Faith Lutheran beat Elko, 12-5, to advance to the state final.
“They are a good hitting team, but sometimes even the best teams can get beat,” Mendez said. “We weren’t a team, we were a family.”
Finally, after the mass celebration on the mound after the final out, Fallon grad Trent de Braga, son of Lester de Braga, capped the joyous day with a wedding proposal to his girlfriend. She said yes.