RENO, Nev. — There were no fence-clearing bombs, or game-ending rallies. Nothing fancy really, just the subtle beauty of crisp plays and a few well-placed singles into a field that has nurtured some of baseball’s greats.
Truckee made the most of its four hits Tuesday, inching along to a 3-1 win over South Tahoe at Aces Ballpark — home of the Triple-A Reno Aces.
Aside for the satisfaction of winning the final Mount Rose League game to end the regular season, the win also improved Truckee’s playoff position. It shaves two hours off Truckee’s bus ride and pits the No. 5-seeded Wolverines against fourth-seeded Fernley, instead of No. 2 Lowry, in Round 1 of the Northern Division I-A postseason Friday.
Clean fielding and strikes usually account for wins in high school baseball, but on Tuesday it wasn’t enough. Truckee needed something more.
Both teams kept the errors down, South Tahoe with one and Truckee with three. Both starters, Erik Holmer and Dominic Diana, threw plenty of strikes. The difference was Truckee’s Andy McKechnie found the gaps with runners on.
“They got the key hits when they needed it and we didn’t,” said South Tahoe coach Starbuck Teevan. “We had some opportunities to score, but just didn’t get that clutch hit.”
Those clutch hits started in the fourth of a scoreless game with Aaron Pado’s leadoff line drive to left, breaking Diana’s no-hitter. Thor Retzlaff sacrificed Pado into scoring position, and McKechnie dropped his first RBI single in right. The quick center fielder then went looking for some insurance.
McKechnie worked his way to third on wild throws, and the heads-up baserunning paid off when Jackson Rohlf delivered a deep sac fly to give Truckee the 2-0 edge.
South Tahoe, however, wasn’t about to go quietly in the big venue.
The Vikings answered in the sixth, finally putting the bat on Holmer’s pitches and capitalizing on three Truckee errors. Catcher Christian Coats slashed a hard grounder to short and stole his way to third. Relieving pitcher Tyler Sharp squeezed him home with a bunt that plopped just inside the first base line. A fielding error and wild throw moved South Tahoe’s tying run to third, but Truckee squelched the threat with a third out.
The Wolverines then erased the damage with one more run in the bottom of the sixth. Again it was McKechnie who supplied the RBI single, this time to a gap in center, after Retzlaff’s single moved the run into scoring position.
“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” said Truckee coach Mike Ellis, reflecting on how far his team has come since the beginning of the season.
Holmer tossed a complete game for the win, finishing win an 82 pitch-count, no walks and five strikeouts. Diana went four innings, limiting Truckee to two hits.
In Truckee’s best-of-three playoff series at Fernley on Friday, and potentially Saturday as well, Ellis said he plans to start Riley Guiragossian in Game 1, Chris Towle in Game 2 and Holmer in Game 3 if it comes to that. South Tahoe, meanwhile, plays a best-of-three series at Fallon.