It was all laid out in front of the Boulder Post 10 baseball team on Thursday morning.
Down five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Nevada state champion in their continued game opening the American Legion Western Regional, only by working one at-bat at a time were the Panthers going to pull off the improbable.
Sure enough, the ball got rolling — and obviously on a downhill slope. Before long, Boulder had completed an amazing 6-5 comeback over Las Vegas Post 40, one which sent the Panthers to a late Thursday second round game and also guaranteed a Friday contest in the prestigious tournament, too.
"We just never quit," said Jackson Dinkel, who went 1-for-5 in the game but contributed the final put-the-ball-in-play hit to score Jacob Katz with the winning run. "We've had some late rallies like that through the year, and I think with that previous experience we knew we could do it. We had confidence in ourselves to get that done.
"We're obviously the only team here that didn't win their state tournament, so I don't think anyone expected us to do anything. To come out with a win in our first game is pretty big for us."
A game that resumed in the fourth inning from Wednesday night's rain out saw Las Vegas take a 2-1 lead in the fifth and then extend that to 5-1 in the eighth.
But in Boulder's final at-bat, the Panthers came alive at the plate. They loaded the bases to start the ninth (singles by Dinkel and Aiden Chandler were followed by a walk from pinch hitter Jordan Wardell) and Cooper Moore produced another hit to score two runs with one out on the board.
Tied at 5-5 with two outs and bases loaded for the third time in the frame, Dinkel hit a ground ball to shortstop that was misplayed, allowing Katz to scoot home.
Ben Davis had an RBI groundout in the inning, and Jacob Katz also drew a bases-loaded walk as part of the rally.
Mason Hitz pitched into the eighth inning and Noel Hackett came in to close the game. Hackett allowed just one hit in 1 ⅓ innings to get the win.
"It was huge that Mason was able to come back and he pitched well both (Wednesday) and (Thursday). We were able to rally behind him because we knew he gave us all he had in him," Dinkel said. "Noel has been big for us all year, and he's a bulldog on the mound. We knew that he'd be able to get us back in the dugout and try and get some runs."
American Legion Western Regional
Boulder Post 10 6, Las Vegas Post 40 5
At Scott Carpenter Park
Las Vegas 100 010 030 — 5 6 3
Boulder 001 000 005 — 6 7 5
W — Noel Hackett. L — Nic Lane.
Las Vegas hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Chris Van Kuren 5-0-1-3, Bryson Stott 3-1-0-0, Brett Brocoff 5-1-2-1, Dominic Paratore 5-0-1-0, Cole Schaefer 2-1-1-0, Aaron Roberts 5-0-1-1, Ryan Carroll 2-0-0-0, Isaiah Raiano 3-0-0-0, Gage Ventura 1-1-0-0, Nic Lane 2-1-0-0. Totals 33-5-6-5. 2B —Van Kuren, Brocoff, Paratore, Roberts. SB —Van Kuren 2, Stott 2.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ben Davis 5-1-1-1, Brendan Van Haute 4-1-2-0, Jacob Katz 3-1-0-1, Cooper Moore 4-0-1-2, Derek Cunningham 5-0-1-0, Mason Hitz 3-0-0-0, Jackson Dinkel 5-1-1-1, Aiden Chandler 3-1-1-0, Ethan Prout 3-1-0-0, Noel Hackett 0-0-0-0, Jordan Wardell 0-0-0-0. Totals 35-6-7-4.
Las Vegas pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Schaefer 3-3-1-0-0-1, Roberts 5-3-3-3-5-5, Lane 0.1-0-2-1-1-0, Stott 0.1-1-0-0-1-1.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mason Hitz 7.2-5-5-5-8-6, Noel Hackett 1.1-1-0-0-0-1.