Wave claims title
DI-A state baseball schedule
Thursday at Las Vegas High School
Faith Lutheran vs. Elko, 10 a.m.
Fallon vs. Boulder City, 1 p.m.
Winners of the first two games meet at 4 p.m.
Friday at Durango High School
Faith Lutheran/Elko loser vs. Fallon/Boulder City loser, 9 a.m.
Loser of winner’s bracket semifinal vs. winner of consolation semifinal, 11:30 a.m.
State championship (possible two games), 10 a.m.
Kendall Johnson didn’t know he would be given the ball until 30 minutes before Fallon’s most important game of the season.
Nerves aside, Johnson went out and rocked and fired against one of Fallon’s toughest rivals, especially in the postseason.
“Just a little bit (of nerves). I had confidence in my pitching,” he said.
After watching Elko come back to force a second game in the championship series, Johnson pitched like the staff ace, shutting down the Indians as the Greenwave won their second-straight Northern Division I-A regional baseball title Saturday afternoon.
“He threw an excellent game. We were trying to hold them off,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said of Johnson. “We went to him and all I can say is it was a great performance.”
Jack Swisher’s two-run homer, the first of his high school career, broke a scoreless tie and Johnson struck out three in four innings as Fallon held off Elko, 7-2, after losing earlier in the day. Fallon defeated Elko, 5-4, on Friday to send the Indians into the consolation bracket.
“It was back to old times. They’re a great team,” de Braga said of Elko. “They’re a team that’s going to push us and get us more ready. Credit goes to their program. They did a good job.”
Fallon enters this week’s state tournament as the North’s No. 1 seed and will take on the South’s No. 2 seed, Boulder City, in the first round. The 2011 state championship rematch begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Las Vegas High School. Elko, the No. 2 seed, faces two-time defending state champ Faith Lutheran at 10 a.m. The winners of the first round games meet on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Las Vegas High School.
Johnson’s clutch performance on the mound and Alex Mendez’s three innings of relief prevented Elko from winning for the third time on Saturday.
“Kendall came in before the game, and I told him that he was due and that it was time to take charge as a junior,” catcher Tyler Bagby said. “He played great.”
On a hit-and-run with Trae Workman on the move toward second base, Swisher smashed a two-run shot off Elko starter Colten Jorgensen over the right-field fence in the third inning to give Fallon a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“That gave me a huge cushion. That’s when I knew we were going to take this,” Johnson said of Swisher’s blast.
A fourth-inning error coupled with Workman’s RBI single gave Fallon a 4-0 lead before Swisher knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. Branden Beeghly’s fielder’s choice in the fifth added another run before Elko scored twice in the bottom half of the frame. Sage Mori added an RBI single in the sixth inning to give Fallon a five-run lead.
“It calmed everyone down because we didn’t want to drop two in a row,” Swisher said of his home run. “We had faith in Kendall and we just had to execute and we did. Everything fell into place.”
After beating Elko in walk-off fashion the night before, Fallon needed to win only once to claim the regional title.
Elko, which beat South Tahoe on Saturday morning to advance to the first game of the series, chased Fallon starter Chase McElvain late in the game. Fallon jumped out to a two-run lead after Beeghly’s two-run homer before it saw Elko score eight unanswered, including five in the final frame to break open a one-run game into a six-run lead. Benton Wickersham laced a bases-loaded, two-run double with one out before Jorgensen smacked a bases-clearing triple in deep center.
Beeghly, meanwhile, tallied a team-high eight hits and added eight RBIs in the four games.