Pahranagat Valley, the four-time defending Division IV state baseball champions, took the long way home in the Southern League Regional tournament in Alamo last week.
The team took a stumble in their opening game on Thursday, losing 8-6 to Indian Springs.
Then Round Mountain followed with a 5-0 upset of regular season leader Tonopah to put both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in an elimination game the following day. The Muckers had beaten the Panthers twice just two weeks earlier.
However, the mark of a champion is to come back when your back is against the wall, and the Panther boys did just that, winning four games in two days, including beating Indian Springs twice on Saturday to retain the regional championship.
On Friday, Tabor Maxwell threw a one-hitter and five strike outs, and Pahranagat came out with power in the elimination game with Tonopah, building up an early lead with 11 runs in the first three innings, and coasting to a 13-3 win to move on in the tournament.
Pahranagat coach Brad Loveday said, “They hit the ball well, (10 hits). Tabor pitched really well with a very small strike zone, but he threw strikes”.
Wade Leavitt went 2-4 and scored four runs.
Tonopah coach Clark Jewett, which had an outstanding season at 24-4-1, said of his team, “We did not show up both games and it showed. I think we got one hit last night (losing to Round Mountain) and I think we got two hits today. We just didn’t come to play.”
That same evening, Pahranagat had to play Round Mountain in another elimination game in order to get to the tournament finals Saturday morning against Indian Springs.
Pahranagat and Round Mountain had played each other in the 2013 state title game.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 12-0 lead after three innings, and captured a 12-2 victory.
Junior pitcher Paden Higbee controlled the Knights, striking out five, allowed no earned runs on four hits and issued three walks over five innings.
Loveday said “I didn’t have to motivate them. They knew what they needed to do and they just came out and were positive. The way they played, they really wanted to hit the ball. They just wanted to take it. They weren’t waiting around, find a good pitch and go hit it somewhere. I’m proud of them.”
Saturday morning, the Panthers faced Indian Spring again and would have to win both games to earn the No. 1 seed from the Southern Region.
They jumped out quickly on the Thunderbirds and captured a 14-3 victory in the first game. PVHS registered seven runs in the first three innings, then a big six run fourth inning. Ike Taylor gave up three hits over four innings, struck out five and walked four.
Caleb Hansen racked up four RBIs on three hits. He singled in the second and third innings and doubled in the fourth inning.
In the second game Saturday, Freshman Christian Higbee powered Pahranagat to a 12-2 victory over Indian Springs. He doubled in the third inning and singled in the fifth inning.
As a pitcher, Higbee had a two-hitter, allowing no earned runs, walked one and struck out six.
Pahranagat scored four runs in the sixth on three passed balls by the catcher, the last one was the game winner on the 10-run rule.
Both teams advance to state this week in Reno. Pahranagat (22-6) played Wells and Indian Springs (14-9) faced Virginia City on Thursday in the opening round.