Dayton, Yerington split
With a 12-8 win in the first game already in the bag and Joe Goffinet set to take the mound in the nightcap, the Yerington High baseball team was in good position to sweep Dayton High on Saturday in the teams’ Division II doubleheader at Dayton.
But it was Dayton’s Chris Van Zant who emerged as the starring pitcher in the day’s finale to help Dayton earn a 14-4 win and keep the Dust Devils (4-1) 1 games ahead of the Lions (4-4) in the division standings.
“I really thought we’d pick up the second game with Joe on the mound, but it didn’t work out,” said Yerington coach George Ostrander.
Van Zant, a senior lefthander, said he didn’t feel too nervous when he was called on by coach Craig Miller to start the second game in hopes of gaining the doubleheader split for Dayton. He went on to finish the game with 11 strikeouts and he limited the Lions to six hits during the shortened, five-inning game.
“I felt good and knew the team would pick it up in the second game,” Van Zant said. “Other teams are usually not used to seeing a left-hander and it surprises them.”
Van Zant, normally the team’s first baseman, figured he would be called in for a stint on the mound on Saturday with Bobby Nylen, one of Dayton’s best starting pitchers, sidelined for 2-3 weeks due to a separated shoulder.
“I prefer first, but I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Van Zant said. “We’ve got to pick up his position while he’s out.”
Van Zant received plenty of offensive help from his teammates during the game, as Gary Sawyer and Clayton Friskey each hit three-run homers for the Dust Devils and Mike Sampang added a solo shot. Sampang finished the doubleheader 5-for-8 at the plate.
Miller said he had challenged the Dayton players during the break between games after the Dust Devils’ indifferent effort against the Lions in the opener.
“I told them to become mentally tough – we were not disciplined in the field or at the plate during the first game,” Miller said. “And they did exactly what they needed to do.
“We needed that game.”
Billy Snow was the complete-game winner for Yerington in the opener. He struck out nine Dayton batters.
Yerington broke open the first game with six runs in the third inning. Batting off Dayton starter Shane Van Zant – Chris’ younger brother – the Lions batted around in the inning and scored two runs when Josh Hunt drove a double with runners on second and third base.
Jake Deen pitched the final three innings for the Dust Devils. Dayton outhit Yerington during the game 14-8, but the nine walks surrendered by Dust Devil pitchers proved to be costly.
Shane Van Zant had two homers and four RBIs for the Dust Devils in the opener.
Ostrander said the playoff race is shaping up just as he anticipated: with Yerington, Dayton, Manogue, Whittell and Incline all battling for the four division post-season berths.
“I see five teams out of the seven vying for the title,” Ostrander said.
Yerington hosts Coleville on Tuesday at 3 p.m.; Fernley is at Dayton on Wednesday at 4 p.m.