By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
While most high school students found themselves on vacation or relaxing at home and taking it easy for the spring break, the Moapa Valley High School Baseball team was busy traveling to Las Vegas for the Grizzly Invitational.
In this midseason invitational tournament, the Pirates took on four opponents that all brought elite competition to the diamond. Three of the teams Moapa took on were from the Division 4A. The other, Boulder City, holds the title as the 2016 Division 3A state champions.
“I scheduled this tournament knowing it would be spring break and we needed to play somebody who had high intensity,” said Pirate Head Coach Ed McCann.
For the first game of the week, the Pirates went up against the Bengals of Bonanza on Monday, Apr. 10. Bonanza held a 3-1 lead going into the sixth inning, but put up three runs to extend their advantage to 6-1. Despite two runs in the seventh inning with the game on the line, the Pirates weren’t able to pull back in front and fell to the Bengals, 6-3.
“We played pretty poorly defensively,” said McCann. “I think our guys might have been nervous a little. By the fifth inning they settled down and they were fine.”
Dayton Wolfley went 2 for 2 at the plate in the game, with a double as well as a run scored.
On Tuesday, Apr. 11, the Pirates took on Legacy in their second game of the tournament. It was a similar story in that Moapa Valley faced a deficit late in the game from which they had to rally. Down 5-1 in the sixth inning, the Pirates cut the lead to 5-3.But the team couldn’t quite complete the comeback and ended up falling to the Longhorns 6-4.
On Wednesday, Moapa Valley took on their first 3A team of the tournament: the Eagles of Boulder City. Just a week earlier, the Pirates excited their fans with a statement victory over the Eagles by a narrow 2-1 margin. In this game, the Eagles appeared determined to respond.
Heading into the bottom of the third, the Eagles led 5-2 over the Pirates. But in the third inning, the Pirates scored three runs to tie the game. This was to be the turning point in the game.
“It just set the tone about how our guys just say ‘We’re fine,’” McCann said.
In the fourth inning, Boulder City reclaimed the lead with two runs to push the score to 7-5.
But it was far from over for the Pirates. Moapa responded with an absolute explosion at the plate. They scored sixteen runs in a single inning to flip the game upside down.
In the midst of this inning, Pirates senior Daxton Longman got the hit that was the icing on the cake. Longman hit a triple, with the bases, loaded that drove in three runs and demoralized the Eagles.
“You could see Boulder City let their hats down a little bit after that,” McCann said.
The Pirates would go on to win by a final score of 21-8. McCann summarized the game, saying, “Boulder City is a good team. We just got hot at the right time in that particular game and took advantage of some miscues; and that’s how we won.”
Later that afternoon, in Moapa Valley’s final game, the Pirates took on Spring Valley. This team currently stands as the fifth best team in the state, according to McCann. It was sure to be a difficult game and the Pirates took it as a learning opportunity.
The Grizzlies would beat the Pirates 13-0. But the game was far from a disappointment.
“It was good for us to play that kind of competition because our guys didn’t back down from it,” McCann said. “We were confident going in that we would be alright.”
McCann used the game to play various freshmen in the Moapa program such as Kashten Frei, Hayden Redd, and Slade Graham.
At this point in the season, McCann said that he is just feeling lucky to be a part of this Pirates baseball program that is certainly on the rise.
“I feel blessed every day to be there,” McCann said. “They’re learning how to play the game the right way, they’re respectful, and they’re just great individuals. As a coach, sometimes I just sit back and say, ‘Wow.’ To see them do what we have covered in practice in pressure situations is what is most rewarding.”
This team has been doing great things early on in the season, but is yet to peak. Only time will tell how far Moapa Valley baseball can go in 2017.