The Lakers’ promising season ended one win away from their goal — a state championship berth.
After opening the Northern Division III regional tournament in Ely with a 3-1 win over second-seeded Battle Mountain on Friday, the Lakers fell 7-4 to top-seeded Yerington, placing them in an elimination rematch against Battle Mountain on Saturday.
The Longhorns pulled out the win, 11-6, over the third-seeded North Tahoe squad to advance to the regional title game and secure a berth in the Division III state championship.
“It was disappointing. The kids wanted more, especially with how we were playing the first day. But it just didn’t work out for us,” said North Tahoe coach Matt Drury.
Spencer overpowers Longhorns
The Lakers received a solid complete-game effort from senior starter Colin Spencer in their opener against Battle Mountain. The big right-hander scattered three hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out 14.
The Longhorns didn’t get on the scoreboard until the seventh inning, when they pushed across an unearned run. North Tahoe scored a run in the third, one in the fifth and one in the seventh.
“We played really, really well the first day,” Drury said. “We scored just enough runs, and Colin took care of the rest.”
Spencer helped his cause with a pair of RBIs, while Wildon DesLauriers went 3-for-4 with a triple and RBI, Alex Tyler had two hits, and Baird Bishop and Shane Christian had a hit apiece.
After their quality win against Battle Mountain, the Lakers were struck with misfortune in their afternoon game against Yerington (21-8-1).
A sprinkler head broke in front of home plate and flooded the field, which delayed the start of the game to 6 p.m. With the score tied 4-4 entering the fifth inning, and with the Lakers playing crisp baseball on the day, the game was suspended until the following morning due to darkness.
North Tahoe did not come out with the same spark for the 9 a.m. restart, and the Lions took advantage, scoring a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth while holding the Lakers scoreless.
“We had momentum, and kind of had them on their heels. But the next day we just didn’t have it,” Drury said. “The kids worked hard. We just weren’t making the plays in the field and couldn’t get the bats going at the right times.”
Mitchell Myers and DesLauriers split the pitching duties, with Myers giving up four runs in four innings and DesLauriers three runs (two earned) in two innings.
The Lakers managed four hits off of Yerington starter Corbin Cliften, who needed 143 pitches to get the complete-game win. He allowed five hits and six walks and struck out nine.
DesLauriers led the North Tahoe offense, as he blasted his first high school career home run and finished with a pair of RBIs. Spencer had a triple and RBI, while Christian had a double and Tyler a single.
Not their day
North Tahoe struggled in its must-win rematch against Battle Mountain later that day.
The Longhorns scored three in the first to take the early lead. They added three more in the third for a 6-0 advantage. North Tahoe scored a run in the fourth, but Battle Mountain answered with a five-run sixth to push the score to 11-1.
The Lakers did not go down quietly, however, as they scored a run in the bottom of the sixth and rallied for four in the bottom of the seventh. But it was as close as they could get as the Longhorns sealed the state berth.
North Tahoe had 10 hits, with Alex Bourriague, Myers, Baird Bishop and Spencer each contributing two hits, and Christian and Tyler one. Bishop and Myers had two RBIs apiece, and DesLauriers and Christian each had one. Four different Lakers pitched, including Spencer a day after his complete game. Spencer recorded five more strikeouts, giving him 125 strikeouts on the season in 67 innings pitched. According to the NIAA record book, Spencer’s 125 strikeouts ranks fifth all time in Nevada high school baseball. He finished 8-2 with a 1.88 ERA.
“Colin was a warriors. Baird too, with all the innings he caught,” Drury said. “Our seniors can feel good. They had a great season and were great leaders with how they played all weekend. It was a very good season.”
Yerington went on to defeat Battle Mountain 20-10 in the regional title game.
The Lakers posted a final record of 17-11.