The Incline and North Tahoe baseball teams were both eliminated from the Northern Division III regional tournament in Lovelock this past weekend.
Fourth-seeded Incline used a late rally to upset top-seeded North Tahoe 5-3 in the rivals’ opening game Friday morning, sending the Lakers to the loser’s bracket.
North Tahoe then fell to third-seeded Yerington, 9-1, for an early exit from the tournament.
Needing one more win to advance to the state championship, the Highlanders lost 12-2 to second-seeded Battle Mountain on Friday and 11-1 to Yerington on Saturday.
Yerington went on to defeat Battle Mountain 20-0 and 13-2 to claim the regional championship and top seed as both teams advanced to state.
Highlanders rally late
Incline started its opening game on a positive note and ended it with a bang.
Junior pitcher and shortstop Jack Clouthier blasted a leadoff home run against North Tahoe starter Shane Christian to give his team an immediate 1-0 lead. It lasted until the third inning, when the Lakers broke through for two runs off of Clouthier to take the lead. They extended the margin to 3-1 with another run in the fourth.
After Clouthier’s homer, Christian settled in and held Incline scoreless until running into trouble in the seventh, when Masxsimo Battel drew a walk, Tommy Thompson singled and Tommy Dolan drove them both in on a double that knotted the score at 3.
Owen Graffis kept the rally going by drawing a walk. The Highlanders then benefited from an errant pickoff attempt and a throwing error that brought in the go-ahead run plus another for insurance. Clouthier, who scattered nine hits and a walk while striking out four in a complete-game effort, shut down the Lakers in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
Incline managed only four hits off of Christian, who struck out seven and walked three.
“It was a great win,” said Incline coach Jeff Clouthier. “We played defense the way we wanted to all year. Shane shut us down after the first inning. I don’t think we got a runner on until the seventh.”
Longhorns strike early
The Highlanders earned their state berth by defeating Battle Mountain, which was then leading the league standings, in both games of their league doubleheader to end the regular season. But they had no such luck in their playoff meeting.
The Longhorns jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning and answered a two-run Incline third with five more to push the lead to 11-2. Battle Mountain scored once more in the fourth, and the game ended after five innings on the 10-run rule.
Incline had four hits, with Thompson recording the only RBI on one hit. Kenny Savelieff, Clouthier and Bryan Banuelos contributed a hit apiece.
Dolan, who started on the mound, was tagged with the loss in a short outing. Battel pitched the rest of the contest.
After dropping their first game of the tournament to Battle Mountain, the Lions caught fire, outscoring their opponents 53-4 over their final four games.
“Yerington came to play,” coach Clouthier said. “They were on a mission.”
The Highlanders did not help their cause in the 11-1 defeat, as they committed six errors and allowed the Lions to score at least one run in every inning. The game was tied 1-1 after one, but Yerington took over with a run in the second, two in the third, two more in the fourth and five in the fifth to end it after five innings on the 10-run rule.
Incline mustered four hits off of Yerington pitchers Bo Garner and Daniel Sciarani, who combined for seven strikeouts. Battel, Thompson, Clouthier and Dolan had a hit apiece, with Dolan driving in the only run. Tyler Jones led the Lions with three RBIs on a 3-for-4 performance.
Incline finished the year 10-11 overall and went 9-8 against the Northern Division III.