For the second consecutive game, the Pahrump Valley baseball team faced a deficit heading into the seventh inning.
It wasn’t as large as the seven-run hill they managed to climb last week against Boulder City, but it was the Sunset League opener against Mojave, a team that brought a 4-13 record into the game.
Losing might not have been catastrophic, but it would have erased most of the good feeling generated by last week’s comeback.
Anthony Charles made sure that didn’t happen.
The senior left fielder launched his second double of the game, a high pop toward the corner in right field that scored Garrett and Willie Lucas with the tying and winning runs as the Trojans (5-11-1) won a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Rattlers on Monday at Pahrump Valley High School.
“It was just a pop-up toward the line, kind of deep, and he got really close to it, but he didn’t get close enough,” Charles said.
Pahrump Valley coach Brian Hayes said no special instructions were necessary to build another late rally.
“We just basically said put it on the next guy,” Hayes said. “He was having trouble throwing strikes, so we told them to be aggressive. Sometimes we’ll tell them to take a strike, but we said be aggressive but understand that he’s wild. You might get your pitch and hammer it, but if not, a walk’s as good as anything right now.”
They got a couple of those during the winning rally, which started on the inning’s first pitch when Mojave’s Mike Cianci plunked Zach Trieb in the back. One out later, Chase McDaniel reached on an infield single, his second hit of the game, but he was erased on a fielder’s choice that left runners on first and third with two outs, and the score still 3-1.
But Mojave’s Mike Cianci, who had walked two batters the previous inning even with the benefit of what appeared to be a widening strike zone, was laboring. He walked Willie Lucas, who had driven in the first Pahrump Valley run with a first-inning groundout, to load the bases for Cyle Havel, who walked on a 3-2 pitch that made most people freeze, waiting for a game-ending called strike.
“I thought it was strike three,” said Hayes, watching from the third-base coaching box. “I was ready to walk in.”
Instead, Havel trotted to first and Bradda Costa, running for Trieb, came home with the Trojans’ second run. That set the stage for Charles, who had doubled in the fourth for what had been Pahrump Valley’s only extra-base hit.
“It did have the effect of keeping positivity in my mind,” Charles said of the earlier hit. “Stay positive, don’t get disappointed in myself if I don’t get one pitch.”
The hit made a winner of Garrett Lucas, who held Mojave to two earned runs despite allowing 10 hits and walking three.
“Honestly, it doesn’t seem like he’s had his best stuff lately, but he’s battling through it,” Hayes said. “Like today, I don’t think he had his best stuff, but he battled through it a little better than he did last time. Last time I think his pitch count was like 70-something in three innings, and today he kept it down and gave us an opportunity to stay in there.
“He’s our ace, and we’re going to roll with him unless it gets really ugly.”
It could get less ugly if the Trojans’ bats would wake up earlier in games, and Hayes thinks it’s a by-product of several players not having as many reps as they normally would have by this point in the season. The pitching and defense are there, but the offense is behind, he said.
“We’re a pitching and defense team, but I think our guys are starting to learn we have to score runs,” Hayes said. “Our problem is we get guys all over the field, and then we can’t get somebody to do the job with a runner on base. We’ll get a walk, we’ll steal a base, we’ll get a runner on third, and then we just can’t get anything done.”
Until the seventh inning, anyway.
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