The Douglas High Tigers watched as South Tahoe starter Greg Bruso blew his fastball by them for three innings. But they knew what was coming in the fourth. And the Tigers tore into the Vikings in a big way.
Douglas overcame a 4-1 deficit, scoring eight runs on seven hits in the frame, including back-to-back home runs, en route to a 13-7 win on Tuesday at Douglas High School.
"It kind of took awhile because we weren't used to seeing that kind of velocity. We just had to sit back and pick our pitches," said Douglas' Brady Ovard, whose team has bashed eight home runs just four games into the season. "I saw (Bruso's) curveball wasn't breaking too much. We just waited on the fastball and let it rip."
Added Bruso, who is known in the league for his heat, "I don't know what happened. I was just getting the ball up. I felt all right, not my best, but good enough to throw. I haven't felt good with my speed all year yet. It's real frustrating, that's the bottom line."
Bruso cruised through the first three frames, as Douglas (3-1) scored just once on a Bruce Jacobsen single, which scored Ovard who reached on an error in the third.
The Vikes (0-4) were up 4-1 at that point, after scoring twice in the second and third, respectively. Tahoe' Bret Uppendahl knocked in Carson Triggs and scored on a Thrace Ramsey double in the second. In the third, singles by Bruso and Triggs scored Jeff Jensen and Scott Fair.
"We knew Bruso had thrown four innings on Friday. Early on he was mixing it up but then started throwing fastballs only and we were able to sit on them. We knew he'd be tough early, but that we'd be able to get to him if he stayed in," said Douglas fifth-year coach Lars Baker.
And the Douglas game plan worked.
Singles by Beau Krueger, T.J. Bond, Ovard and Jacobsen, a triple by Steve O'Brien, a solo bomb by Matt Trenton and two-run shot by Trent Bowlen - all off Bruso fastballs - led to the eight-run fourth, as Douglas went up 9-4. A seemingly caught fly ball in right field by Uppendahl with one out and Tahoe up one, a play he later told coaches he didn't make, added to the Douglas rally.
"We had Bruso going, were playing good defense and hitting the ball. We just can't get rid of that one inning. It started with that missed fly ball. That opened a can of worms and the kids got a bit down," said Tahoe coach Ralph Clelan.
But the Vikes showed character and battled back. They scored twice in the top of the fifth, cutting it to 9-6. Fair doubled and scored before a Triggs' double plated Uppendahl. But Douglas answered, plating one in the fifth and three in the sixth. Dave Jones belted a solo homer while Krueger and Nate Muren added RBI hits off reliever Fair.
Douglas starter Loren Uber worked 5 1/3 innings for the win, while John Flagg got the save.
"We can play with anyone. Take away that one inning, even four runs, and it's a new ball game. I don't don't care what anyone says, you can't be in a gym and work on the stuff you need to. It just kills us," Clelan added.
In the junior varsity game, Douglas downed South Tahoe, 9-3. Pitcher Brad Mihelic got the win, helped by a six-run Tiger second inning. Five Vikings (0-4) had five hits, led by Andy Mora's double.
Tahoe travels to Carson on Thursday while Douglas goes to Lowry.
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