May 27, 2021
On Saturday, there were about 400 spectators watching Bishop Gorman play Palo Verde for the Southern Region Class 5A baseball championship at the Gaels’ diamond. The crowd was evenly split between Gorman backers and Palo supporters who were sitting at close proximity. As far as I could tell or hear, nary a cross word was spoken. 

I have witnessed other high school sporting events where that hasn’t been the case.

Gorman won 8-2, and your first inclination might be to say no big deal, because when there is a trophy to be won, Gorman usually wins it.

But this seemed different. This seemed like a big deal.

The Gorman kids were thrilled to win and piled on one another near the pitcher’s mound. The Palo kids lingered in the parking lot. They, too, were smiling. The home plate umpire had been less than consistent, but the spectators did not suggest he needed eyeglasses.

This was the first high school ballgame of major significance since COVID had shut everything down like Bob Gibson during the Year of the Pitcher.

As the Gorman players posed for photos with the trophy, one of the photographers said it was great to see the kids playing ball again.

He had captured the moment as well as Vin Scully could.

— Ron Kantowski

The week in review
— The high school baseball season lasted only a few weeks after the teams were permitted back on the field amid the lingering pandemic. But after defeating Palo Verde 8-2 in the Southern Region Class 5A championship game, the Gaels partied like it was 1999 all over again. Gorman coach Gino DiMaria recalled being on the team bus, headed for a tournament in Arizona, when COVID shut down the 2020 season with the Gaels poised to add to their proud athletic legacy. “It was tough not to play baseball and say goodbye to the seniors who didn’t get a chance to play. I think the reason the kids are (celebrating enthusiastically) is because they got to play for some kind of championship,” DiMaria said.

Arbor VIew rallied twice to edge Shadow Ridge to win the 5A region title in softball, with the championship game pretty much mirroring a season during which the Aggies showed the ability to overcome adversity. Bishop Gorman capped a 15-0 season by beating Silverado 8-3 in the 4A final.

— Zachariah Branch, a wide receiver who has attracted the eye of major college football scouts, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump with a personal best of 24 feet to spark Bishop Gorman to the boys 5A Southern Region track and field championship. Centennial won its 11th consecutive regional title in the girls meet despite being down in numbers owing to COVID. The Desert Oasis boys and Palo Verde girls won the team titles at the Class 4A Desert Region meet.
Representing the 702: Jake Hager
Nine years after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays out of Sierra Vista High School, Jake Hager made his major league debut for the New York Mets on May 15. On Friday night, he singled for his first big league hit and scored a run in the Mets’ 12-inning victory over the Miami Marlins. On Saturday, when the Mets needed to create a spot on the roster for a pitcher coming off the injured list, Hager was designated for assignment and claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers, who assigned him to Triple-A Nashville.  But he had realized the dream of playing in the majors and had gotten a hit in eight at-bats. Which is one more than most of us will ever get.
Born: March 4, 1993

Height: 6 feet 1 inches 

Weight: 170 pounds 

Draft: 2011, first round (32nd overall), Tampa Bay Rays. 

Birthplace: Henderson

Positions: Infield, outfield

Did you know: As a senior at Sierra Vista, Hager was the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year  after batting .547 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs.

The week ahead
With the regional championships having been added to the record books, it’s time to hit the swimming pool and water park: High school sports essentially will return to the sidelines during the summer hiatus. But be sure to look for Jason Orts’ All-Southern Nevada baseball and softball teams that will run in print and online during the June 5-6 weekend. This is the last high school sports newsletter until the 2021-22 school year begins.
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