By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
It was definitely a week that Pirate baseball fans had circled on the calendars, ever since the schedules were released before the season began. The Moapa Valley High School Baseball team took on the defending 3A State Champion Boulder City Eagles on Tuesday, Apr. 4. Just two days later, the Pirates traveled to Mesquite for a matchup with the arch rival Bulldogs. It was sure to be an exciting week, and Moapa Valley capitalized.
In the first game of the week, the Pirates hosted the Eagles. On the mound for the Pirates would be sophomore Chase Hadley. Pitching for Boulder City was Jacob Hubel, the same pitcher who won the state championship last spring.
The first three innings were all defense for both sides. The Pirates couldn’t manage a hit through these first three innings, and the Eagles just couldn’t get one home.
In the top of the fourth, the Eagles finally broke the tie with a hit into center field by DJ Reese that brought Kodey Rahr home.
In the bottom of the same inning, Pirates senior Anthony Cornwall was walked with one out on the board. He proceeded to steal second base. Then, on a dropped catch two pitches later by the Eagles catcher, Cornwall headed to third. As the catcher for Boulder City panicked and tried to beat Cornwall with the throw to third, an error brought Cornwall home. The Pirate fans celebrated and the game was tied at one.
With that, the momentum was beginning to change for Moapa Valley. In the top of the fifth, the Pirates got three outs consecutively and kept the score tied.
When the Pirates stepped up in the fifth, after two outs to start the inning, Coby Longman got a hit to break it open and an error at first base brought Longman to second.
Chase Hadley then came up to the plate for Moapa. With a full count, Hadley sent a missile into center field and brought Longman home for the decisive run.
After a scoreless sixth inning, it all came down to the seventh for the Pirates. Jade Marshall entered the game to close at the mound.
The first batter was hit by a pitch and claimed first base. The next batter attempted a bunt and the ball was picked up by Marshall, tossed to Coby Longman for an out at first, and then thrown to third base to beat the other baserunner. With the tag at third was left fielder Chase Guesman, filling in on bunt coverage. This double play would prove to be the game’s pivotal moment. The Pirates would hang on to win 2-1.
“We faced a really good pitcher and he struck out a lot of us,” said MVHS head coach Ed McCann. “But we continued to just battle through it and find a way to win.”
“They have a lot of tradition,” said McCann of the Eagle team. “So for us to beat them, it was a good win.
At the end of the day, we just continue to get better and better.”
In the second game of the week, the Pirates took on the Bulldogs of Virgin Valley. With confidence stemming from the win two days earlier, the Pirates went in to enemy territory and dominated. They jumped out to a four run lead by the end of the third inning, and would hold on to win 5-1 at the end of the night.
Jade Marshall pitched this game for the Pirates, and surrendered just one run. Anthony Cornwall led Moapa on the offensive end, going two-for-two with a pair of RBIs as well.
McCann described the Pirates as a target for other teams now that they have been so successful early on. “We got a target on our back, and I have to remind our guys of that every day,” he said. “There aren’t going to be easy wins anymore, because everyone is coming for us.”
McCann attributed his team’s early success to their atmosphere in practice. “We’re putting pressure on guys in practice and making everything game speed,” he said. “I think that’s why we’ve been as successful as we have been.”
After what is sure to be a tough tournament, the Grizzly Invitational, this week for the Pirates, they take on Del Sol and SECTA next week as they try to stay undefeated in league play.