The Highlanders didn’t act like the higher seed in their playoff opener.
After missing out on earning homefield advantage for the best-of-three postseason series, fifth-seeded Incline swept past fourth-seeded Pershing County, 15-7 and 6-5, in Lovelock on Friday to advance to the Northern Division III regional tournament.
Neither contest started out particularly promising for the visitors. In Game 1, Incline (10-16-1) fell behind 6-1 before responding with a seven-run second and four-run third to take control.
The Highlanders then fell behind 4-1 after two innings in the second game. But again they battled back, scoring two runs in the third and another in the fifth to knot the score, then two more in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Incline sophomore Tommy Dolan started the series opener and ran into trouble early. The Mustangs (7-21) did not let him off the hook, as they struck for six runs (five earned) in the bottom of the first on three hits and five walks.
Jack Clouthier, also a sophomore, entered in the second inning and managed to tame the hosts, as he allowed only one run on five hits the remaining six innings, and finished with nine strikeouts.
He had more than enough offensive support as his team, which led 1-0 after the top of the first, as it regained the lead with its big seven-run second. The Highlanders eventually finished with 16 hits to the Mustangs’ eight.
Dolan led the way with a 4-for-5 game with a double and five RBIs, while Clouthier helped his cause with two hits, including a home run and a double, and three RBIs.
Cam Powell went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs, Tommy Thompson was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, and Masxsimo Battel had two hits, including a triple, and an RBI. Kenny Savelieff, Ben Snyder and Austin Sneed each contributed a hit, with Sneed also driving in a run.
Powell started and went the distance for Incline in the second game. Pershing County mustered two runs in the first and two more in the second before the senior right-hander settled in, holding the Mustangs scoreless in the third through fifth innings.
Meanwhile the Highlanders chipped away at the lead, scoring once in the second, twice more in the third and once again in the fifth to tie the score at 4-4. They took their first lead of the game with a two-run sixth, while Powell gave up one run in the bottom of the inning and blanked the Mustangs in the seventh to secure the series.
Powell scattered seven hits and struck out six over seven innings. He issued three walks and four earned runs.
Incline managed nine hits, with Thompson going 2-for-4 with an RBI, Snyder going 2-for-4 and Dolan picking up an RBI on a solo home run. Powell, Battel and Savelief each had a hit and RBI.
The double-elimination Northern Division III regional tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 10-11, at White Pine High School in Ely. The Highlanders will enter regionals as a No. 4 seed and will face top-seeded Yerington (18-18-1) to open on Friday at 9 a.m. Second-seeded Battle Mountain and third-seeded North Tahoe is the other matchup. The top two seeds advance to state.