TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — The Warriors had their chances.
First, it was bases loaded with one out in Game 1. Then it was a late surge in Game 2 to tie the Lakers 5-5.
But the North Tahoe bats were connecting, and starting pitchers Colin Spencer and Wildon DesLauriers were throwing lights out.
The Lakers baseball team won its doubleheader against Whittell during the first series of the Division III playoffs at North Tahoe Regional Park on Friday. The Lakers picked up the first game 10-0 on the mercy rule in the sixth and the second game 13-5.
North Tahoe 10, Whittell 0
Trailing 1-0 in the third inning, the Warriors were given a gift. Spencer hit a batter and then walked the bases loaded with one out.
Very few chances like this come a team’s way with Spencer on the mound. Spencer, who has 105 strikeouts in 55.3 innings pitched, was already well on his way to 13 strikeouts and a no-hitter, so this was a rare crack in the door.
But the opportunity was brief. Spencer regained his composure, and the Warriors were unable to bring any runs across the plate.
“He used his fastball a lot, which is what we talked about. They have a couple really good hitters and he handled them pretty well,” North Tahoe coach Matt Drury said. “It was a little closer at the start than we wanted, but we’re going to win a ballgame with him on the mound.”
Opposite Spencer was Whittell’s Matt Elliott, who was also throwing lights out. He held North Tahoe to one hit through the first three innings. The Lakers, however, made the most of that one hit.
DesLauriers ripped a double to center, advanced to third on a drop-third-strike shuffle and then snuck home on a passed ball, 1-0 Lakers.
North Tahoe notched another run in the third inning when Alex Tyler drew the walk and DesLauriers sac flied him home.
The Lakers continued to add to their lead in the next in the next three innings.
Shane Christian rapped a sharp, stand-up triple to the center field fence off the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning. Miles Johansen squeezed him home, 3-0 Lakers.
Tyler led off the fifth with a single and then came home on a walk. Spencer reached on a drop third and then came home on a passed ball. The little errors were adding up for the Warriors and the Lakers were taking advantage to the tune of a 5-0 lead after five innings.
By this point Elliott’s pitch count was climbing toward 100, and under the blistering sun he started to show signs of fatigue.
Avery Laub stepped in to relief, but the North Tahoe bats were already hot.
The Lakers piled on another five runs with one out in the sixth to force mercy.
Alex Bourriague got the sixth-inning rally started. The junior sliced a bullet to right center and Tyler brought him home with a triple in the next at bat. With Tyler now in scoring position, all it took was a sharp single to the right side from DesLauriers and another Laker run came home, 7-0. One walk and one hit-by-pitch later, Christian ended the bleeding with a three-run double to deep center.
Tyler and DesLauriers recorded two hits each, DesLauriers with two RBI and Tyler with one. Christian notched a double, a triple and three RBI.
North Tahoe 13, Whittell 5
The Warriors were looking for redemption in Game 2 and a chance to push the playoff series to Game 3.
Starting pitcher Cody Gibson came out swinging. He legged out a leadoff single, and Elliott blasted him home with a double to the left field fence.
For the first time that day the Warriors had the lead, but North Tahoe only let them enjoy it for half an inning.
The Lakers’ starting pitcher, DesLauriers, slammed a stand-up triple to the right-center fence to help his own cause. Spencer brought him home with a single that landed near the same spot to tie the game 1-1.
DesLauriers tossed a complete game for the win, with a curveball nasty enough to drop a batter.
The Lakers lengthened their lead to 4-1 in the fourth, capitalizing on a few Whittell fielding miscues. Spencer ripped a base hit that was extended into a triple when the ball broke through the Warriors’ outfield. Mitchell Myers bunted him home and reached safely on an error. Christianson, Miles Johansen and Tyler Olk added three consecutive singles for two more runs, 4-1.
But the Warriors offense started to inch back into the game.
The momentum started building in the fifth, again with Gibson. The Warriors’ left-handed ace sliced an RBI double to the fence, and then again Elliott came through with the RBI. He brought Gibson home with a massive triple down the right field line. The two hits cut the Lakers’ lead to 4-3. More errors in the fifth, however, brought in a Laker run to make it 5-3.
The Warriors kept chipping in the sixth. Two walks set the stage for Gibson’s bat yet again. He destroyed the ball for another double, this time bringing in two runs to tie the game at 5-5, and just like that the Warriors were alive with one and a half innings to go.
Again the surge was brief. In part because Spencer, who was behind the plate, called time in the fifth to move the Lakers’ right fielder to the perfect spot for out No. 2 against a Whittell power hitter.
The Lakers shut down the Warriors’ season for good in the bottom of the sixth with eight runs. Tyler knocked in the go-ahead run and DesLauriers followed up with a two-run single. Spencer kept the rally alive with an RBI double, and for the second time that day Christian again rapped a three-RBI hit, this time a double to left-center. Bourriague added the final Lakers’ run with a double to right-center.
The Lakers will travel to Ely, Nev., this Friday and Saturday for the double-elimination Northern Division III regional tournament. North Tahoe, a No. 3 seed, will open against second-seeded Battle Mountain on Friday at 11:30 a.m. Fourth-seeded Incline and top-seeded Yerington square off on the other side of the bracket. The top two seeds advance to state.