The Eureka County High baseball team was one strike away from knocking off host, and number two seeded Virginia City last Friday in the opening round of the NIAA division IV regional tournament. But as the Vandals and their coach David Hicks soon learned, baseball can be a cruel game.
After playing a nearly flawless game and leading 6-4 with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh, the Vandals just needed to record one more out to secure their spot in the semi-finals of the tournament.
That’s when things took a turn for the worse.
Virginia City kept the game alive with a two-out base hit, and followed with a walk to put the tying run on first and bring the winning run to the plate. Still, the Vandals had the advantage after getting ahead in the count 1-2, but were stunned by a three-run walk off homerun to straight away center to lose 7-6.
“I have nobody to blame but myself for that happening,” said Hicks. “I called for my pitcher to throw a curveball, but changed it at the last second to a fastball, and he hit it out. It’s a shame, because we definitely played good enough to win that game.”
Even after the crushing loss, Eureka was still alive in the double-elimination tournament, and would play Carlin later in the afternoon. The Vandals couldn’t bounce back from the first game’s seventh inning disaster though and fell 8-4 to the Railroaders, ending their season.
“It was impossible for us to get back up for Carlin after that loss,” Hicks said. “I was pleased with how well we did end up playing though.”
Despite the tough end to the year, Eureka has plenty to be happy about. The team finished 11-10 overall, didn’t lose a game at home all season and finished in third place in their conference.
The way it ended though is tough for their coach to swallow.
“Our kids know as well as I do that it came down to that one pitch, and I made an error on it,” he said. “We know that we were the better team on that day. We had a good season, but it didn’t work out. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Virginia City went on to defeat Wells 4-1 in the championship game. Both teams advanced to the state tournament.