TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Truckee baseball team split its Division I-A Mount Rose League doubleheader against visiting Sparks on Saturday, winning the first game 11-4 and losing the second 9-6.
The Wolverines needed to win both games, plus their regular-season finale against South Tahoe on Tuesday, to host a playoff round. Instead, they will open the postseason at fourth-seeded Fernley should they beat South Tahoe, or at second-seeded Lowry if they lose to the Vikings.
Game 1 was all Truckee after rallying for a 4-1 lead in the third inning, as senior starter Erik Holmer limited the Railroaders to two runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings, and Andy McKechnie and Jackson Rohlf clubbed back-to-back home runs in a four-run sixth inning while combining for eight RBIs.
Game 2 was a different story.
The Railroaders took advantage of six Truckee errors as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and led 8-1 after three and a half innings. The Wolverines cut the deficit to 8-6 with a three-run third and two-run fourth but could not get any closer.
Holmer was on his game in the opener, throwing strikes and fanning eight hitters in his six innings.
Sparks got on the board with a run in the second inning on a passed ball. The Railroaders managed one more run off of Holmer, in the sixth inning when Jared Longland blasted a hanging splitter over the fence in left field.
“I thought that was his best outing of the season,” said Truckee coach Mike Ellis. “His velocity was the best it’s been, and he had his split going and his breaking ball working. And he was hitting his spots.”
Rohlf, who helped out his pitcher by going 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs, also was impressed with Holmer’s stuff from behind the plate.
“Holmer controlled all of his pitches. He only had one pitch down the middle, on the home run, but other than that he was dominant,” Rohlf said. “They couldn’t touch his fastball.”
Truckee hitters, meanwhile, tagged Sparks starter Dustin Alexander for four runs in the third inning, as McKechnie drove in the first two runs on double to left, Rohlf followed with a sacrifice fly and Alexander balked in the fourth run.
The Wolverines got to Alexander again in the fifth, scoring three runs on RBI singles by Rohlf and Travis Ferre and a Sparks error. Alexander was charged with two more runs in the sixth, as he exited after consecutive walks, and McKechnie launched a fastball by reliever Brandon Friedmann deep over the left-field fence for a three-run home run.
Moments later, Rohlf muscled the first pitch he saw over the fence in left for back-to-back homers, and an 11-2 Truckee lead.
Sparks scored twice off of Truckee reliever Aaron Pado in the seventh and was hoping for more, but McKechnie gunned down a runner at the plate to end the game after fielding a base hit by Kieffer Putman.
McKechnie finished with a double, home run and five RBIs to lead everyone. Ferre had two hits and an RBI, while Pado and Riley Guiragossian contributed a hit apiece.
The Railroaders managed six hits total, no player with more than one. Longland, Austin Garrick and Casey Carter each had an RBI.
Sparks didn’t have to wait long to avenge the loss.
A half-hour later, the hosts rallied for three runs after two outs off of a hard-luck Guiragossian, including two on a throwing error and another on an infield hit.
Truckee got back a run in the bottom of the first when Holmer picked up an RBI off of Carter, who started for the Railroaders and gave up five runs in three innings on seven hits and three walks.
But Sparks added on, scoring another run in the second and four more in the third to take a 8-1 lead. Five of the nine runs off of Guiragossian, who went five innings, were unearned.
The Wolverines battled back with three runs of their own in the third and two in the fourth, trimming the lead to 8-6. Longland then came in and held the hosts scoreless in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Truckee had eight hits, with McKechnie and Holmer each finishing with two hits and two RBIs. Pado and Ferre also had two hits, and Rohlf had one.
Sparks had nine hits. Carter and Travis Dulgar each contributed two hits, and Collin Ray had a hit and two RBIs.
With the split Sparks took the three-game season series, 2-1. The Railroaders are now 5-7 against the Division I-A and Truckee is 5-6, with one game remaining against South Tahoe on Tuesday. Records within the Division I-A are used to determine postseason seedings.
Truckee and South Tahoe square off Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Aces Ballpark in Reno.