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Baseball: Pahrump Valley opens, and perhaps closes, by going 3-1 at Route 66 Classic

It was supposed to be the warm-up act to a highly anticipated baseball season for Pahrump Valley High School. Instead, it might be the entire baseball season.

Somehow, the Trojans managed to put the impending suspension of spring sports out of their minds just enough to win three out of four games at the annual Route 66 Baseball Classic over the weekend in Needles, California, and Mohave Valley, Arizona.

Perhaps it was fitting in this season of uncertainty that the tournament had a few issues as well. Some teams pulled out, rain stopped some games and canceled others and the schedule changed on the fly.

“It’s supposed to be spring break, but it’s spring stress,” Trojans coach Brian Hayes said. “It’s been a stressed-out week.”

As it turned out, the Trojans learned the fate of their season before playing a single official game.

“We found out I believe it was Thursday afternoon,” Hayes said. “We got something from Mr. (Jason) Odegard saying that Clark County had canceled, but there was nothing from Nye County yet.”

With most of their opponents suspending their seasons, there was little choice for Pahrump Valley, but the logic of that didn’t make it easier on the players, who had just had their opening game stopped by rain.

“We knew before we played Thursday,” Hayes said. “We had two games Thursday and we knew before then, and it was like, do we tell them before the games or after? We decided to tell them after the game, and then the games got canceled because of rain. So we just told them on the bus, and it was tough.”

Friday’s weather was not perfect for baseball, with plenty of clouds and a cool breeze. But the rain held off, and the Trojans opened play against The Meadows at Needles High School. After spotting the Mustangs a 3-0 lead, the Trojans scored single runs during the fourth and fifth before the game was called because of time.

Junior Jalen Denton went 2-for-2 with a double and scored a run for Pahrump Valley, while seniors Cyle Havel, who doubled, and Chase McDaniel, who tripled, drove in runs. Junior Roman Roberts struck out five and walked one for the Trojans.

That evening brought up a game against Holtville, California, at River Valley High School in Arizona. Freshman Kyle McDaniel went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and Sterling Oshiro had 2 hits to back the 4-inning, 1-hit pitching of Chase McDaniel, who allowed only 2 runs, both unearned, in the top of the fourth for the Trojans, who made 3 errors.

Oshiro, Havel and Jake Riding doubled for Pahrump Valley, while Roman Roberts belted a triple. Chase McDaniel struck out five while walking one to earn the win.

“What we learned (Friday) is that we’re young,” Hayes said. “We made a lot of young mistakes, and that’s what these game are for. We kind of told them before the first game that this is not really your preseason, and once you make a mistake you can’t make it again. I think we put undue pressure on them. So after game one we just pulled them aside and said this is what we’d normally be doing.”

Trying to make the unusual business as usual seems to have worked, as the Trojans routed their two Saturday opponents. First came a 15-4 romp over Central of El Centro, California, when the McDaniel brothers each went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. Riding tallied 8 strikeouts against 1 walk, and none of the Spartans’ runs was earned.

Oshiro and Riding each drove in 2 runs for the Trojans, who racked up 11 hits to Central’s 3. Roberts, Chase McDaniel, Coby Tillery and Denton each scored twice.

“We just looked really good last game,” assistant coach Drew Middleton said. “And this team (Central, which was playing while the Trojans awaited their final game) is better than what they showed last game against us. They’re a good baseball team, and we just tore them to shreds.”

That was followed by a 21-5 laugher against Kingman in the Trojans’ final game of the weekend, as they erupted for 14 hits.

Chase McDaniel went 3-for-3 with a walk, 3 RBIs and 3 runs for Pahrump Valley, while Havel and Zach Cuellar each had 2 hits and 3 RBIs. Kyle McDaniel, Denton and Tillery drove in 2 runs apiece.

Kyle McDaniel and Denton each scored 4 runs for the Trojans, who now will sit around and wait, and hope.

“I’m sitting here and thinking about next week and not playing anything,” Hayes said between games. “It’s affecting a lot of my decisions about who’s going to play, what we’re going to do. Normally we’d be getting our relievers in, but we don’t have any games. It changes the way I coach, so I’m sure it changes the way they’re playing. You see kids trying too hard and trying to do a little too much, and I don’t blame them.”

“These won’t be our last games,” Middleton said. “I personally think we will see the field again. We’ve just got to go home, keep our heads up, and hopefully we can come back.”

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