The Pahrump Valley baseball team’s unscripted, and unplanned, version of “Eight Men Out” played to weak reviews, but the opening of “Starting Over” is an instant hit.
Playing with a full roster for the first time since eight players were suspended, the Trojans used the classic formula of pitching and defense to post a 4-1 victory over Virgin Valley on Monday in Mesquite.
Not only did the win snap a four-game losing streak, it might have signaled an emphatic end to a disheartening streak that saw the Trojans (4-11) give up double-digit runs in six of their previous eight games.
“It’s kind of what we expected,” Pahrump Valley coach Brian Hayes said. “We expected to play well. Offensively, we weren’t where we need to be, but pitching and defense are looking better.”
Surprise starter Bradda Costa danced around trouble, striking out five, walking four and hitting a batter in five innings of two-hit work.
“I didn’t know I was pitching today, so I didn’t really prepare for them,” said Costa, who stranded seven base runners.
“He usually has good control,” Hayes said of Costa. “Last season, I think he walked six guys all year. Usually he’ll hit more guys than he’ll walk because he likes to pitch inside.
“The good thing about him is he’s an experienced guy, and he knows how to work out of jams. He’s not going to hang his head. He’ll walk a guy and work around it. We’ll leave him out there and let him work through it, and I think you saw that today.”
Costa used a variety of pitches in key situations to keep the Bulldogs (8-5-1) off balance. And it didn’t hurt that he had a few runs on the board as the Trojans nicked Virgin Valley starter Dillan Fuqua for a run in the first and three in the third.
“Putting that ‘3’ on the board was the big one,” Hayes said. “We’ve had one big inning in the last, I don’t know, seven games? That’s one of our goals, to have a big inning. If you’re not having one, you’re not going to win.”
Chase McDaniel reached on an infield error to start the inning and moved to second on a walk to Joey Koenig. Two outs later, Garrett Lucas sent a two-run triple down the right-field line. Lucas then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.
Lucas was the hitting star of the game for the Trojans. He also drove in the game’s first run, hitting a single to the left in the first inning to score Willie Lucas, who had doubled and stolen third.
Costa was pulled after five innings and replaced by Cyle Havel. Havel’s pace and pitch selection seemed to startle the Bulldogs, as he struck out the side in the sixth. He then finished the game by putting down the side in order in the seventh, with a little help.
With one out, Jayden Perkins ripped a liner toward Costa, who moved to third base after his pitching was done. In a split second, the ball that seemed destined for the left-field corner found itself in Costa’s glove.
“That was just a reaction play,” Costa said. “I saw it hit to me, I put my hand out there, and luckily it went in my glove.”
“We get to the top of the order and Bradda makes, well, I don’t know if you call that a catch or a stick, but after the two weeks that we’ve had, we’ll take a play like that,” Hayes said.
McDaniel then made a nice play on a grounder and it was over.
“My defense really helped me out,” Havel said. “I wouldn’t be pitching as well as I did without my defense. Chase and Bradda making those plays … I mean, Bradda, that was incredible.”
“I’m kind of new to playing infield,” Costa acknowledged. “I’m usually in the outfield, but they needed me at third and I just do what I can do anywhere.”
The win adds to the positive feeling that came with having the team back at full strength, Havel said.
“It definitely brought a new energy back to the team, and I think it was great for everyone,” he said.
“I think there are some hungry guys,” Hayes said. “You can tell guys haven’t had live at-bats for a while, but the biggest thing is that the guys we had out there today are pretty much our best defense.
“It feels nice. It feels like what we were hoping for a lot this year.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes