The Lakers and Highlanders were destined to clash again.
The North Shore rivals will meet in the opening round of the Northern Division III regional championship tournament after both clubs swept their final league series on the road Saturday.
North Tahoe, which was second to Battle Mountain entering the weekend, defeated Pershing County 2-0 and 6-3 behind a couple of strong pitching performances to clinch the top seed with a record of 12-2.
“We knew that team was dangerous because they were fighting to stay in fourth,” North Tahoe assistant coach Mike Tidd said of the Mustangs. “Both of our pitchers gutted it out.”
The Lakers received some help from the Highlanders (8-6), who upset Battle Mountain (11-3) in both games of their doubleheader, 12-7 and 10-6, to earn the fourth and final playoff seed over Pershing County (7-7). Incline had dropped seven straight games entering the series, including a pair of losses, 7-3 and 12-9, against North Tahoe.
The double-elimination regional tournament will be contested at Pershing County High School in Lovelock this Friday and Saturday, May 16-17. Second-seeded Battle Mountain and third-seeded Yerington (11-3) will square off on the opposite side of the bracket, which can be found at www.niaa.com.
The top two teams from regionals advance to state, which is scheduled for May 22-24 in the Reno area.
DesLauriers, Christian tame Mustangs
North Tahoe senior pitchers Wildon DesLauriers and Shane Christian combined for 21 strikeouts in a couple of complete-game gems Saturday.
In Game 1, DesLauriers scattered three hits over seven innings while fanning 11 hitters and not allowing a walk to lead the Lakers to the shutout victory. He breezed through his outing in efficient fashion, throwing only 64 pitches, 54 of which were strikes. DesLauriers threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 23 batters he faced.
The Lakers needed a fine pitching performance, as Pershing County sophomore Angel Ramirez held the visitors to just two runs on five hits while matching DesLauriers’ 11 strikeouts.
North Tahoe scratched across a run in the second inning and another in the third on RBIs from Christian and Miles Johansen, who was the only Laker with an extra-base hit.
Christian, Johansen, Mitchell Myers, Alex Bourriague and Lucas Earley contributed a hit apiece, and Bourriague and DesLauriers scored North Tahoe’s two runs. Ramirez had two hits to lead the Mustangs.
In Game 2, the Lakers scored two runs off of Pershing County starter Dominic Barter in the top of the first inning. The Mustangs cut the lead in half with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning, then took the lead with a two-run fourth.
Christian shut the door after that, holding the hosts scoreless over the final three innings while North Tahoe knotted the score with a run in the fifth and surged ahead with a three-run seventh.
Christian, who helped his cause at the plate with a double, triple and RBI — and was responsible for the tying run in the fifth after tripling and scoring on a passed ball — finished with 10 strikeouts. He scattered seven hits and a walk over seven innings.
Myers and Johansen drove in two runs apiece, as Myers went 3-for-3 and Johansen 2-for-4. Senior Alex Tyler also went 2-for-4, while Bourriague, Tyler Olk and Trent Lingruen each had a hit.