Freshman Mason Montoya hit a 3-run homer to lift the Bulldogs into the Regional Championship and qualify for State Playoffs. (Photo: YoshiYama)
Virgin Valley High School, Mesquite, NV-
The Moapa Valley Pirates gave a last hard fight while their ship was sinking, but the Bulldogs’ pitching was too tough to claim the title of Champions of the NIAA 3A Southern Region.
The Bulldogs came out in full force as they went right into scoring, breaking the leash and running wild with offensive strike after another offensive strike. In the second inning, Kyler Sudweeks hit a double, then a Moapa Valley error allowed Mason Montoya to make it to first beating out the throw. This allowed Aiden Litzenberger to nail a single allowing Sudeweeks to score. Drake Wakefield then single scored an RBI, allowing the Bulldogs to take a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Botton of third, the Bulldogs would score again off a sacrifice fly by Kurt Felix. With the Pirates down by 3, they started to do some moving offensively as they scored by Tyson Pettingill beating the throw at first to move a scorer to third and then Austin Heiselbetz rang in one run with a single.
With more in scoring position, the Bulldogs fielded a hit and recorded a double play to end the offensive threat by the Pirates. The Bulldogs then went in and recorded five runs in the bottom of the 4th inning off of 3 errors to take a dominating 8-1 lead.
With the game looking like a sealed deal for a Bulldog victory in the fifth inning, the Pirates reraised the “Black Flag” and began a surge like never before seen. At the top of the fifth and sixth innings, the Pirates rallied with 5 scores, forcing the Bulldogs to make three errors.
With the game 8-6 with players on during the bottom of the 6th inning, the field umpire called a tagged-up Bulldog player safe after stealing to second on a foul ball catch. This resulted in an argument with Pirate Head Coach Justin Williams regarding rules pertaining to a foul ball catch and if allowed to tag up and steal a base or not. After some time of the conversation between both umpires and Williams, the player was ruled safe at second and the game continued. No scores in the 6th and with one last chance for the Pirates to claim the treasure, the Bulldogs went to Stratton Waite on the mound.
Waite pitched the heat as he stroke out one, forced another out, and then the last one was hit in the infield for a throw to 1st for the out and finish the strong last-minute attack by Moapa Valley.
Errors were a huge problem for both teams as Moapa Valley had 4 while Virgin Valley had 5.
Kurt Felix led the team with 3 RBIs, hitting .333 BA for the game. Mason Montoya and Aiden Litzenberger both batted .500 BA being 1 out of 2 in the batter’s box.
Matthew Hughes scored twice with one stolen base and Stratton Waite had two stolen bases.
On the mound, Jared Jensen, Kurt Felix, and Stratton Waite all added one K each. While on defense, the Bulldogs were a .844 Fielding Percentage for the game lower than usual due to the errors that occurred.
The Bulldogs were relieved to win the game and secure the championship, but full knowing they have some things to polish up before state.
“Moapa is a really good team. Really good,” said Virgin Valley High School Head Coach Dan Wright. “They really gave us a challenge and a full-blown battle.”
The Bulldogs head up to Fernley High School this next week where they will face the #2 seed from the Northern Region, Dayton. While the Pirates will head up the same way and face the #1 Northern Seed of Truckee.
Truckee upset heavily favored regular-season champion South Tahoe and then upset Fernley. Dayton lost to Churchill County but fought their way up through the Consolation Bracket to end up in the Championship game for the NIAA 3A Northern Regional Playoffs Tournament, including beating South Tahoe and Fernley but losing to Truckee 16-1.
Your Southern Regional Champion Bulldogs will play Dayton at 4:00 pm PST on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Dayton is 15-17 overall and has an 11-10 league record. The Bulldogs are now 23-5 with a 14-game winning streak in play and a perfect 10-0 league record.
Both brackets for the NIAA 3A Southern Regional Playoff Tournament and the upcoming NIAA 3A State Playoff Tournament are below. For more information on state tournament play, visit www.niaa.com.