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Trojans down Vikings to win first-ever state baseball title

“Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay!”

The sounds from the Pahrump Valley dugout that can be heard from around the ballpark every time a player who scores returns to the dugout.

Included with the sounds are the players jumping up and down in excitement for the run scored.

These sounds were heard many times this season, but none more important than the ones heard on Saturday during the 2023 Nevada 3A state baseball championships at Virgin Valley High School.

“It’s exciting for our community,” Virgin Valley athletic director Brian Poole said of the school being able to host the baseball and softball state tournaments. “Great games all the way through. Hard-fought games. Everybody competed really well and every school was represented really well. The sportsmanship shown by all of the schools that participated was phenomenal.”

They needed both games to do it, but the Pahrump Valley Trojans secured the victory and returned home as the state champions after defeating South Tahoe 3-0 in the second game of the championship series Saturday afternoon.

“Those boys, they’re the reason why we look good, the coaching staff,” Pahrump Valley head coach Roy Uyeno said following his team’s victory. “It’s beautiful, I love it. They all wanted to win. The game is for them, I’m excited for them.”

Pahrump Valley went into Saturday’s game as the only remaining undefeated team from the championship bracket.

They defeated Churchill County 2-0 on Thursday and Virgin Valley 8-6 on Friday to reach the game.

Friday’s game against Virgin Valley got a little scary in the end. Pahrump went into the seventh inning with an 8-1 lead and the Bulldogs scored five runs in the final inning.

After that game, I caught up with Uyeno and he jokingly mentioned a potential curse I put on the team.

He was referring to me bringing up last season’s outcome against the Bulldogs when the Trojans held a five-run lead going into the sixth inning and Virgin Valley ended up coming back to win in extra innings.

Their opponent, the South Tahoe Vikings, got to the championship game with a much tougher route.

After losing their opening game to Virgin Valley 5-3 on Thursday, they were sent to the loser’s bracket to fight their way back.

The Vikings got wins over Churchill County, 8-2, and Virgin Valley, 9-2, on Friday to reach the 3A state championship game.

The way the state championship works is if the top team wins the first game, that’s it. They are crowned the champions.

However, if the lower seed wins the first game, the two teams will have a short break, then play each other one more time to see who is the state champion.

That’s what happened on Saturday.

The Trojans went into Game 1 as the top seed and the “home” team.

Pahrump Valley showed why they were the top team in the tournament early in the game.

The Trojans plated two runs on two singles by seniors Kyle McDaniel and Matt Arrey in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.

Despite them starting the game hot, those two runs would be all the offense they could muster up for Game 1.

South Tahoe’s pitcher, Evan Orr, held Pahrump to just four hits after the first inning.

The Vikings would take the lead in the top of the second inning. They scored three runs on five singles in the inning to take a 3-2 lead and they never looked back.

Tahoe would add four more runs in the top of the fourth inning to blow the game open. The Vikings would go on to win the first game of the championship series 8-2.

“The first game was rough,” Uyeno said.

Walking throughout the sports complex at Virgin Valley between the games, I could feel the excitement, anticipation, and even nerves among all of the families and friends in attendance.

After Game 2, I asked Uyeno what he was thinking between the games going into the biggest game of the season.

He knew that South Tahoe was out of starting pitchers due to the pitch-count rule and that the Vikings had played an extra game more than the Trojans.

Tahoe had to rely on pitching by committee in their most important game. And the Trojans took advantage.

Pahrump started off the second game just as they did in the first game by taking the lead in the first inning.

Senior James Metscher led off the game with a 9-pitch walk. After two wild pitches moved him over to third base, he came in to score on a single by Scott Hirschi.

This time was different, though. They weren’t going to give it up.

Uyeno sent out pitcher Matt Arrey in their final game of the season.

The senior pitched a great game, going all seven innings without allowing a single run and giving up just three hits.

“It feels amazing,” Arrey said of getting the win. “It’s basically a dream. I came in thinking I was going to shut it down.”

And shut it down he did.

Arrey did find himself in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning when he walked the bases loaded.

However, with great pitch placement, he was able to get the Vikings to ground out into a double play to get out of the inning clean.

He also came up huge for the Trojans at the plate.

Arrey went 2-for-4 in the second game and 4-for-7 between both games against the Vikings.

He came around to score two of the three Pahrump Valley runs in the second game of the day.

His second run was scored on freshman Jack Walker’s single in the top of the fourth inning.

Arrey kept the Vikings down in the sixth inning, getting them out in order and not allowing a baserunner to get the win.

“What can I say,” Uyeno replied when I asked about Arrey’s performance. “Seven innings, no runs, complete game shutout. I cannot say anything. He told me he wanted the ball the whole game. He kept saying, ‘coach I’ll finish it,’” and as coaches we let him.”

This is the first baseball state championship for Pahrump Valley. Uyeno said after the game that it was a long time coming and that he was happy that he and his players could finally bring a title home to the town of Pahrump.

“I think it’s a really big accomplishment for our school,” Pahrump Valley athletic administrator Jason Odegard said. “It gives a really good feeling throughout the school. It brings home a sense of community and a sense of pride.”

Now that they’ve got a state championship under their belts, Uyeno and the rest of his staff will be hoping to add to it and make it two in a row next season.

Contact sports writer/editor Danny Smyth at dsmyth@pvtimes.com. Follow @_dannysmyth on Twitter.

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