Fittingly, Pahrump Valley senior pitcher Garrett Lucas was named Class 3A all-state first team by a vote of coaches after an outstanding season on the mound and on the plate.
Just as fittingly, he was joined by his junior brother, Willie. To add a little special something to the honor, the younger Lucas didn’t see it coming.
“I was expecting all-conference, and maybe all-Southern Region, but I did not expect all-state,” Willie Lucas said. “It shocked me, but I was really glad about it.”
For Garrett Lucas, the honor was something he had been building toward for most of his high school career.
“Ever since I started high school baseball, being an all-state player was my own personal goal,” he said. “In the weight room at the high school, coach (Craig) Rieger would always talk about wanting to be the best, and he really inspired me to work my hardest in everything I do.”
Willie Lucas says there is no sibling rivalry and was happy to be on the all-state team with his brother.
“That was cool. I thought that was awesome,” he said. “I knew that Garrett definitely deserved it because he was (Sunset League) MVP last year, and for his leadership on the team. Even though I’m the captain, he’s also leading the team.
“His presence just makes the team more confident. He’s always helping people out when they need him. I was really happy, a lot of people consider us to be like a dynamic duo.”
One reason for the lack of rivalry could be the complementary roles the brothers play on the field. All pitchers and catchers have to work together, but few have the relationship Garrett and Willie Lucas enjoy.
“We realize that I’m a righty, he’s a lefty. He pitches, I catch,” Willie Lucas explained. “I can help him out because I’m catching for him every game and I know his weaknesses and his strengths. Of course I’m watching him more than I watch the other players, because he’s my brother and I care about how he plays. And he does the same thing to me, like he’ll tell me if I’m droppiong my elbow.”
Willie Lucas is known as a feared hitter and for his leaderhip at catcher, but, like many players with much less ability, he is known for his mastery of the little things that can make a baseball team successful, and he knows people notice.
“Probably my hustle, and knowing the game, where I should be after every play and leadership on the team,” Willie Lucas said about why opposing coaches voted him all-state. “Every play I was backing up a base or I was making sure everyone was doing what they needed to do. I had to be loud and make sure I was the captain on the field.”
Another one of the little things Willie Lucas does so well, unlike backing up a base or directing infield traffic, shows up directly on the scoreboard.
“He’s the best at reading balls in the dirt,” Pahrump Valley baseball coach Brian Hayes said. “He scored a few runs from third base that nobody else on the team would have scored.”
That helps explain how he scored a team-leading 28 runs on just 84 at-bats and 11 walks. But make no mistake, he does the big things well, too. Willie Lucas finished the season hitting .381 with 14 doubles, 18 RBIs and 15 stolen bases as the Trojans went 20-17-1, won the Sunset League regular-season title with a 9-1 record and reached the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2007.
“He’s by far our best offensiver player,” Hayes said. “He gets on base, he can steal bases, he scores runs.”
And, as the catcher, he was in the perfect position to help his brother be his best. Garrett Lucas was the Trojans’ ace, going 7-3 with a 2.49 earned-run average while striking out 80 in 73 innings despite not considering himself to be a strikeout pitcher.
“Garrett doesn’t have a lot of speed, but he’s a great finesse pitcher and he can spot his pitches well,” Willie Lucas said. “Every one of his pitches has great movement, and I can use them at any time. I have a lot of confidence when he’s on the mound, because rarely does he mess up, and when he does, he gets past it really fast. When I talk to him on the mound, I can really get to him and know what to say at every turn and how to calm him down.”
The older Lucas is usually pretty calm at the plate as well. He matched his younger sibling with 18 RBIs while hitting .343 with 15 stolen bases and 27 runs scored while striking out only nine times.
“He’s been pretty consistent,” Hayes said of Garrett Lucas. “He’s always been a pretty mature kid. He came into our program as a high-character, hard-working kid and has been that since he was a freshman.
“Garrett was our bona fide No. 1 on the mound and has been that for three years now. He’s basically been the face of our program for the past two years. He’s been our best pitcher and one of our best offensive players. … Pitching, at the plate, in the dugout, he’s been one of the guys we can count on.”
Willie Lucas was expected to get some time on the mound as well, but the Trojans’ No. 2 catcher left the team during the season, forcing Hayes to pencil in Lucas exclusively behind the plate the rest of the way.
“We lost the ability to have Willie pitch,” Hayes said. “Willie’s got some pretty good stuff. We have a pretty good freshman coming in who can catch. If Willie gets some innings on the mound, he has a chance to be league MVP next year.”
Willie Lucas agreed that not being able to take the mound hurt the Trojans down the stretch.
“I wanted to pitch,” he admitted. “I was pretty disappointed when I found out the other catcher had quit because I knew that I could help the team as a pitcher, and I enjoy pitching. I like catching a lot, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it could have helped the team if I could have pitched.”
While Hayes is looking forward to using Willie Lucas on the mound as well as behind the plate during his senior year, he is also very intrigued by keeping an eye on Garrett Lucas as he begins his collegiate career at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Washington.
“I’m excited to see what he can do when his full focus is going to be pitching,” Hayes said. “He’s got quality pitches, and they all move. The key for him is going to be velocity. If he can get that up to the mid-80s or high-80s, he’s got a shot to get to the next level after that. It’s going to be exciting to see how he progresses.”
But first, the just-graduated brother can savor one last memory of playing for Pahrump Valley, being recognized as one of the best in Class 3A.
“When I heard I was selected to be all-state it was one of the happiest moments of my baseball career, along with making state and sending Boulder home during that tournament,” Garrett Lucas said. “Earning all-state is just a reminder to me to play baseball as long as I can and continue enjoying the game.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes
Class 3A Baseball Honors
First Team: Garrett Lucas, Willie Lucas.
First Team: Garrett Lucas, Willie Lucas.
Second Team: Cyle Havel, Chase McDaniel, Anthony Charles.
First Team: Garrett Lucas, Willie Lucas, Cyle Havel, Chase McDaniel, Anthony Charles.
Second Team: Bradda Costa, Dylan Grossell, Tyler Floyd, Joey Koenig.