With the Nevada State Horseshoe Pitching Association championships in Tonopah just weeks away, Pahrump pitchers have been getting ready by competing in both NSHPA-sanctioned tournaments and the more informal backyard series tournaments.
One of each was held over the past two weekends, with Mark Kaczmarek of Pahrump winning Class B on Sept. 19 at the Neal Schulte Open in Las Vegas and Pahrump’s Lathan Dilger and Audrey Study taking first place at Mike’s Midnight Madness on Sept. 12 in Pahrump.
The Neal Schulte Open was held at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort, and Scott Lopez of Kingman, Arizona, was named tournament champion after going 4-1 in Class A, nosing out Dennis Andersen of Pahrump and Ty Frazier of Kingman, who each went 3-1 with a tie during the round robin.
Playing with a 19 handicap, Lopez came the closest to matching his entering ringer percentage among the six pitchers in Class A, making 87 while racking up 265 points. Tops in Class A was Bob Swain, who posted 99 ringers but, playing with a zero handicap, went 3-2 to finish fourth. Swain and Lopez were the only non-Nevadans in the tournament.
“Dennis won second place by a points tiebreaker with Ty Frazier,” said Lathan Dilger, president of the NSHPA. Anderson finished with 269 points to Frazier’s 262.
There was also a tight race in Class B, with Kaczmarek and Neal Schulte going 3-2, Dilger and Joe Kalache going 2.5-2.5 and James Hatch and Matt Jose going 2-3. Kaczmarek, who recorded 55 ringers to top his entering percentage of 24.53, easily won the points tiebreaker over Schulte 168-122. Dilger broke the tie with Kalache for third place with his 134 points, 10 better than Kalache.
Over in Class C, a newcomer had the big day.
“This was Scott Heer’s first sanctioned tournament, and he went undefeated,” Dilger said. It was close, as Scott Hardy tallied more ringers (40-36) and more points (135-129) than Heer, but Heer beat him head to head as he went 5-0.
While many previous tournaments in Las Vegas have been held at Leavitt Family Park, Dilger is thinking bigger.
“I’m trying to make Las Vegas a horseshoes destination,” he said. “We just need more than six courts. You’d think in Las Vegas 30 courts are nothing, but the nine at Leavitt Park are the biggest in town.
“But I’m going to work on that. I’d like to get a 30-court indoor building so we can play the whole summer out of the heat, and it would be nice for winter, too.”
Heat was less of a problem a week earlier, as Mike’s Midnight Madness, as the name suggests, was held in the evening. Fourteen teams of pitchers competed until 1 a.m. on two courts at DJ’s Ranch as part of the backyard summer series.
Dilger and Study split the $60 first-place prize after going undefeated in the tournament, including a win over Eric Deatherage and Hector Aguirre, who came out of the losers bracket to challenge Dilger and Study in the finals. Deatherage and Aguirre lost their opening game of the tournament, then proceeded to reel off four consecutive wins, beating DJ Zuloaga and Tom Pietraszak in the losers bracket final, to reach the finals.