LAS VEGAS — The Laughlin High School Cougars saw their bid for a state tournament spot come up a bit short, falling to The Meadows 2-0 in the semifinals of the NIAA Southern League Tournament at Mountain View Christian School in Las Vegas.
The Cougars, who finished second in the regular-season Southern League standings, opened the four-team, double-elimination league tournament with a 4-1 win over The Meadows.
Tyrell Gonzalez shined, both on the mound and at the plate, to help Laughlin open the postseason with a win. Gonzalez snapped a 1-1 tie with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning, plating teammates Diego Trujillo and Benedict Garganera.
Trujillo scored in the first inning to put Laughlin in front but the Mustangs tied it on Sam Kaplan’s solo homer in the top of the fifth before Gonzalez’s go-ahead shot in the bottom of the inning.
Gonzalez got the victory, working seven innings. He allowed four hits and one walk while striking out nine.
The win advanced the Cougars to a game against league champion Lincoln County in the winners’ bracket. Lincoln County scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to erase a 5-3 Laughlin lead en route to a 7-5 victory.
Laughlin built the lead with the help of two-run rallies in both the third and fourth innings but couldn’t make the lead stand up.
Gonzalez led the attack with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Dann Perry contributed a double for the Cougars.
Kobe Walker and Matthew Hafen both went 2-for-3 for the Lynx while Dean Ottley and McKinley O’Conner had two RBI apiece.
Alex Vincent got the victory in relief of starter Mason Thornock. Robert Anderson pitched for Laughlin, allowing nine hits. He struck out four and walked one.
That put the Cougars in the losers’ bracket final with a return match against The Meadows. This time, the Mustangs prevailed 2-0 in a well-played defensive battle.
The Meadows took a 1-0 lead in the fourth and expanded it with a run in the sixth. That was all the backing Kaplan would need. He allowed just one hit — a single by Trujillo. He walked one and struck out 10.
Trujillo allowed only three hits — two by Trey Covell and one by Davidson Rufty. He struck out seven and walked seven in 61⁄3 innings. Tyreece Gonzalez relieved with one out in the top of the seventh and struck out the two batters he faced.
Lincoln County went on to claim the tournament title with a 10-3 win over The Meadows. Vincent and Walker had three hits apiece to pace a 10-hit attack.
Lincoln County and The Meadows will represent the Southern League in the state tournament, joined by Northern League representatives Yerington and Incline to battle for the NIAA 2A title.