ELKO — Despite not sending a local baseball team to the 3A state tournament for the first time in five seasons, a wealth of ballplayers earned their ways to all-league and all-state recognition.
While they may have played for different teams, it’s a cousin thing.
Maintaining a long list of family success in athletics — especially in baseball — senior cousins Cooper Jones and Brock Gilligan capped their respective careers with 1st-Team All-League and 1st-Team All-State honors.
Jones, a senior at Elko High School, upped his 1st-Team All-League, 2nd-Team All-State selections as a junior to a 1st-Team All-State nod in center field in his final season with the Indians.
He has wheels, which he routinely used to his advantage — also to the benefit of Elko’s small-ball situations — both offensively and defensively.
Jones tied his school record in stolen bases, matching the mark he set last season — swiping 30 bags for the second straight year — leading the league by six steals over second place.
He stole a career-high four bases in a 14-0 victory on March 16, in Sparks.
Jones also swiped three bases in two games and racked up multiple steals in 10 contests.
With 49 hits, he topped Elko’s roster and ranked second in the 3A North — trailing only the 51 knocks by Fallon senior Edgar Alvarado — Jones’ .462 batting average pacing the Indians and placing fourth in the league.
On the season, he scored 36 runs, once again leading the team and finishing fourth in the 3A North.
His. 508 on-base percentage was the 11th-best clip in the 3A North, his two triples tying for 12th place.
Defensively, not many balls fell in center field or the left-center of right-center gaps, for that matter.
His speed and range allowed Jones to track down virtually everything hit his way, finishing the season with a perfect fielding percentage, not committing a single error in 51 chances — finishing the season with 49 putouts and two assists — tying for the best defensive season in school history with a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Jones closed the year with six doubles and drove in 18 runs, his best effort coming on May 9 during the regional tournament against what is now the two-time defending state champion, finishing 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs, scoring three runs and stealing a base in an 11-9 loss to Truckee.
The contest served as one of Jones’ four three-hit ballgames of the season.
On March 22, he capped a six-run comeback with a walk-off infield single for a 9-8 win in the second game of a doubleheader versus South Tahoe.
As a three-year varsity starter, Jones posted a .376 batting average, a .442 on-base percentage, amassed 126 hits, scored 115 runs, drove in 58 runs and racked up 82 stolen bases — capping one of the most-storied careers in the history of Elko baseball.
He closed his career with 16 doubles, nine triples and two home runs — both coming inside the park.
His 126 knocks rank No. 1 in program history — surpassing the 124 hits set by EHS Class of 2016 graduate Benton Wickersham — and Jones’ 82 stolen bases are the most ever in the maroon and white.
Utility is defined as the state of being useful, profitable or beneficial.
The Spring Creek Spartans definitely benefited in several areas from the services of Brock Gilligan.
In his final season in the purple and black, Gilligan contributed greatly with his glove, his arm and his stick.
As a pitcher, Gilligan tied for the team high and split second in the league with seven wins against just two losses.
He also notched Spring Creek’s lowest earned-run average and placed 10th in the 3A North with a 3.02 ERA, finishing eighth in the league with 48-2/3 innings pitched.
Gilligan struck out 29 batters — the third-most for the Spartans and the 16th-most in the league — giving up 13 walks.
On April 20 in the series finale versus Fallon, Gilligan tossed arguably his best start of the year, tying for a season-low with three hits allowed.
He gave up just one run over seven innings during one of his four seven-inning, complete-game efforts of the season — Spring Creek claiming the series with a 2-1 victory.
On March 9, in Dayton, he punched out a season-high seven batters in a four-hit effort during a 13-2 victory.
Defensively, he committed only six errors in 73 total chances — playing both on the mound and at shortstop — his .918 fielding percentage ranking second among players at the six position.
He recorded 20 putouts and 47 assists.
With his bat, Gilligan’s .402 batting average was Spring Creek’s best clip — finishing 19th in the 3A North.
With 28 runs scored, he matched the team best and tied for 12th in the league — also splitting 12th in the 3A North with two triples.
On April 5, with the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Gilligan roped a one-on, one-out double and drove in fellow senior Clay Campbell — giving Spring Creek a 3-2 walk-off win against No. 1 Truckee in the series opener.
On March 23, in Fernley, Gilligan smacked a season-high four hits and drove in a pair of runs in a 15-6 win.
He finished with a season-best three RBIs, going 3-for-5 with a double and a triple in a 13-3 win over Sparks on April 27 during Spring Creek’s senior day.
For the season, he drove in 22 runs — ranking second on the team and tying for 15th in the league in runs batted in.
His 35 hits ranked No. 1 for the Spartans and tied for 16th in the 3A North.
For his career, Gilligan hit .374 with a .448 on-base percentage and drove in 58 runs — scoring 55 runs of his own — nailing eight doubles, two triples and a home run.
1st-Team All-League, 2nd-Team All-State
No pitcher won more ballgames in the 3A North than Elko junior Colby Tiner — the Indians’ game-one starter — who earned 1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State honors.
Tiner tied for the league high with eight wins against just one loss, posting an .889 winning percentage.
Among players with at least 17 innings pitched, Tiner’s 2.51 earned-run average led Elko’s rotation and served as the sixth-best ERA in the league.
He tied for the team high with 43 strikeouts against 10 walks, splitting fourth in the 3A North in punchouts.
On March 22, Tiner allowed just two hits over seven innings with four strikeouts and no walks in a 9-0 win versus South Tahoe.
He went seven innings four times — winning each occasion — striking out a season-best seven hitters with only one walk on four hits in a 10-2 victory on April 12 against Spring Creek.
Tiner was the Indians’ workhorse, closing second in the league with 58-2/3 inning pitched.
Also playing defensively at second base and shortstop, Tiner tallied the sixth-best fielding percentage between the two positions at .905.
He only committed six errors in 63 chances and notched 21 putouts with 36 assists.
At the plate, he batted .370 and drove in 12 runs — scoring 13 of his own — tying for 12th in the 3A North with 37 hits.
He finished second on the roster and tied for 13th in the league with nine doubles.
Despite being seldom used as a runner, Tiner still tied for 19th in the league with 10 stolen bases — swiping three in a 14-0 win on March 16, in Sparks.
While Gilligan earned a 1st-Team All-State selection, he was not the lone Spartan on the 1st-Team All-League list — senior teammates Max Shanks and Jay King also earning 1st-Team All-North and 2nd-Team All-State nods.
Shanks, like Gilligan, was a jack of all trades – earning his 1st-Team All-North and 2nd-Team All-State selection at first base.
His .345 batting average finished as the third-best clip on Spring Creek’s roster, and his 11 extra-base hits ranked second on the team — tying King for the team high and splitting seventh in the league with three home runs.
Shanks’ last homer of the season essentially sealed a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed for the Spartans, nailing a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the seventh on April 20 for a 2-1 victory in the series finale against Fallon.
He also hit a home run in the series opener, giving him two bombs against the Greenwave — the Spartans bookending the series with wins.
With eight doubles, he tied for second on the roster and 15th in the league.
Shanks finished the year with 21 RBIs — tying for 20th in the league — scoring 13 runs of his own.
He also did damage on the hill, winning seven games — tying for third in the league — against just one loss.
Shanks struck out 33 batters and tied for 10th in the league, allowing 11 free passes.
At 3.06, Shanks posted the 11th-best ERA in the 3A North.
The big man went seven innings in four games — resulting in a win each time — and fanned a season-high seven batters without a walk in an 8-0 shutout win on March 22, in Fernley.
Defensively, playing at pitcher and first base, Shanks’ glove was on-point — finishing seventh in the 3A North with a .967 fielding percentage and committing only four errors in 123 total chances — tallying 109 putouts and 10 assists.
For his career, Shanks finished with a .384 batting average, a .441 on-base clip, 71 hits, 52 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
King was named a 1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State utility/designated hitter.
On the bump, he blew balls past hitters at an incredible rate — leading the league with 81 strikeouts — punching out 18 more hitters than second-place Deacon Mehler, of Truckee.
On May 4, King tossed the only no-hitter of the 3A North season.
In a 5-1 win at North Valleys, King did not allow a knock over seven innings — striking out 14 batters against four walks — the Panthers’ lone run of the contest unearned.
In the ballgame, he matched a season-high in punchouts — also tossing 14 Ks versus just one free pass in a three-hit performance in a 6-3 win on March 23, in Fernley.
For the year, he fanned double-digit batters in four ballgames.
His 3.14 ERA ranked 12th in the league, his three wins tying for 13th against four losses.
Playing defense at first, short and on the mound; King posted a .931 fielding percentage — the best clip of any shortstop in the league — committing nine errors in 130 chances with 74 putouts and 47 assists.
At the dish, he averaged a 1-for-3 clip — batting .333 — leading the Spartans and splitting sixth in the 3A North with 28 RBIs.
He tied for the team high with 28 runs scored, tying for 12th in the league.
King did the majority of his damage at the plate early in the season, starting the year with a bang.
He tied Shanks for the team high and split seventh in the league with three home runs — smacking all three deep shots in the Dayton series — going yard twice and driving in an insane-eight runs in a 3-for-6 performance in an 18-6 win the season opener on March 8.
In the March 9 doubleheader with the Dust Devils, he went 4-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs scored in an 8-1 victory — finishing a perfect 3-for-3 with a double, scoring three runs and driving in two more during a 13-2 win.
For the series, King hit 10-for-15 with three dingers and a double, driving in 12 runs and scoring eight.
One of the most-pleasant surprises of the season was the emergence of Elko senior Kohl McIntosh, who earned the respect of the 3A North coaches for a 2nd-Team All-League selection in right field.
Although he is a three-year varsity player, McIntosh was primarily used as a runner and/or a defensive specialist during his sophomore and junior seasons — receiving only 23 at-bats for seven hits and seven RBIs with two doubles and a triple.
One thing that that was never questioned was his athletic ability, possessing both a lengthy frame and speed.
Due to an unfortunate hamstring injury to senior Carter Alvarado on the final play of the Dayton series on March 30, McIntosh took over in right field.
He took full advantage of his opportunity.
McIntosh fielded the ball perfectly, posting a 1.000 percentage – tying for the best clip in school history — recording 28 putouts and an assist in 29 chances.
Despite a limited number of ABs in his career, he quickly became one of the best hitters on the team and in the entire league.
With a .446 batting average, McIntosh ranked second for the Indians and tied for seventh in the 3A North.
Of his 29 hits — including four doubles and a triple — no player in the league reached the mark in fewer than McIntosh’s 65 at-bats.
Using his jets, he finished second on Elko’s roster and tied for eighth in the league with 29 runs scored — also ranking second for the Indians and splitting ninth in the 3A North with 13 steals.
He stole two bases in two games, doing so with a pair on March 22 against South Tahoe in a 9-0 win and once again in a 10-2 victory on April 12 versus Spring Creek.
For the season, he drove in 14 runs — putting in work against North Valleys.
On March 26, McIntosh broke a 4-4 tie with a three-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning — adding the second of his two runs for an 8-4 victory — scoring a season-best three times in the second half of the twin bill in a 19-4 rout.
Facing the Panthers in the second round of the 3A North tournament, he tied his season high with three RBIs and scored two runs in a 3-for-5 effort at the plate during a 12-7 win.
Congratulations to Cooper Jones and Brock Gilligan on their 1st-Team All-State selections, Colby Tiner, Max Shanks and Jay King for earning 2nd-Team All-State honors and Kohl McIntosh for running with his chance toward a 2nd-Team All-League nod.