South Tahoe scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back as the Vikings went on to beat No. 1 seeded Elko 8-6 in Friday’s first playoff game.
The first run came off an RBI single by River Quinn, scoring Dominic Diana. R.J. Rivera drew a walk and Garret Harley had a two-run base hit to center, bringing across Sergio Burgueno and Quinn.
“What really helped us was getting out to an early lead that helped loosen some nerves,” said head coach Starbuck Teevan.
Elko answered back with one after a lead-off walk and a one-out double, but didn’t take the lead for the rest of the game.
Elko threatened in the second when Cody Nielson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Vikings pitcher Harley worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
Elko tied the game in the fourth inning off a base hit from R.J. Bajarano that brought Jacob Conklin around from first to even the score at three.
South Tahoe took the lead back in the fifth when Aaron Phister had a base hit that scored Rivera from second. Rivera was safe at home after a play at the plate and Elko’s catcher dropped the ball.
The Indians answered right back in the second half of the inning with a 2-out solo homerun by Benton Wickersham to tie the game at four apiece.
In the sixth, Elko pitchers faced the entire Vikings line-up starting off with a walk drawn by Kolby Eymann. The next batter, Dakota Lynch lined a triple to left field scoring Eymann. Diana was intentionally walked and Burgueno hit an RBI single bringing Lynch home from third. Quinn laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing runners to second and third.
Harley managed an RBI base hit, by sliding headfirst into first, that allowed Diana to score. The inning ended with a 7-4 South Tahoe lead.
The bottom of the sixth started with a pop fly to shallow left field. Burgueno and Diana both slid in to make the catch that bounced off the two a few times before eventually being caught by Diana for the out. The next batter hit a fly ball to right center, but Eymann robbed him of a hit with a diving catch for two outs. The sixth inning also saw a pitching change. Burgueno came in from left field to replace starting pitcher Harley.
Harley went 5 2/3 inning with six hits, two strikouts, five walks and four runs scored.
“(Harley) battled all day, was in and out of trouble,” Teevan said. “We have a lot of confidence in him and he’s a great player.”
The Vikings scored one more in the seventh off an RBI single by Burgueno that scored Lynch.
Elko put its rally caps on and attempted a comeback with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Conklin hit a two-run double to right field with two outs.
Teevan made another pitching change bringing Diana to the mound from shortstop for Burgueno. Diana faced one batter, who hit a pop-fly to right field that was caught by Eymann to end the game.
Harley went 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs and Lynch went 3-for-4 with one RBI and walk. Diana went 2-for-3 with two intentional walks.
““It was good coaching. If I was the coach, I would have walked him too,” said Teevan about the intentional walks. “It’s just a sign of respect of Dom as a player.”
The win marks South Tahoe’s first-ever playoff win in school history. The Vikings were scheduled to continue their playoff run over the weekend, with opponents being determined by the outcome of other games being played.