Female pitches South Tahoe All-Stars to victory | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Female pitches South Tahoe All-Stars to victory

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

GARDNERVILLE – Pitcher Jesse Crouch accomplished a rare feat in Little League All-Star baseball on Wednesday night.

The only female on the South Tahoe 11-12 All-Stars earned the win in her team’s 11-4 Nevada District 1 victory over North Valleys at Aspen Park.

Crouch tossed three complete innings, striking out six North Valleys batters. She left with a 5-4 lead, and Dakota Lynch took the ball from there, pitching three scoreless innings.

South Tahoe (2-1) moved into a tie with Carson Valley for second place in its pool and all but locked up a spot in Saturday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinals. South Tahoe meets unbeaten Washoe (3-0) in its final pool game Thursday at 8 p.m.

Crouch pitched ahead in the count to have early success against North Valleys. She struck out James Wheatley on three pitches to start the game, then fanned the next hitter looking.

“She throws hard … she shut them down pretty good,” said South Tahoe manager Dan Miller.

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North Valleys’ Shedrick Bowen took a Crouch fastball over the center-field fence for a a home run. After a two-out single to right by Casey Blatzke, Crouch finished the first frame with another strikeout.

“I like striking them out,” Crouch said. “I didn’t know if was gonna do very good, but I was actually throwing strikes. It feels really good, because I actually feel like I did something helpful for the team.”

North Valleys’ 1-0 lead didn’t last very long. In the bottom of the first inning, South Tahoe rattled off four straight hits to go on top 2-1. Randy Stockton’s double to right center scored Kolby Eymann. Sergio Burgueno and Dakota Lynch delivered run-scoring hits and Tyler Dill touched home plate on a passed ball as South Tahoe built a 4-1 lead.

In the second inning, Crouch intuitively covered and blocked home plate on a wild pitch, and it paid off. Catcher Michael Crandal retrieved the loose ball and made a quick toss to Crouch, who applied the tag to get Micah Miller-Hood on a close play. North Valleys scratched out an unearned run during the inning, making the score 4-2.

But South Tahoe recovered the run in its half of the second on Cale Quistgard’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice. Eymann, Burgueno and Dill each socked their second hits to fill the bags.

North Valleys pushed across their final runs in the third, taking advantage of a temporary loss of control by Crouch. Both hitters who walked came around to score – one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a wild pitch. Crouch, however, finished her outing the way she started it – with a strikeout.

The tag Crouch made at home plate in the second inning caused some discomfort in her pitching hand, and Miller decided to make a change.

“I was going to keep her in, but that runner ran into her pitching hand. I didn’t want to take the chance, so I pulled her out and put ice on it,” he said.

Lynch put the finishing touches on the solid South Tahoe pitching effort, retiring nine of the 11 hitters he faced. His four punchouts gave South Tahoe 10 for the game.

Burgueno and Jaret Young delivered clutch hits in South Tahoe’s third at-bat. Young’s single up the middle plated pinch-runner Stockton, then Burgueno launched a ground-rule double to left, scoring Eymann and giving South Tahoe a 7-4 lead.

“Sergio really played a great game tonight and really helped out a lot,” Miller said of his No. 3 hitter, who went 4 for 4 with four RBI and played flawlessly at shortstop.

South Tahoe broke it open an inning after taking three straight third strikes. Burgueno’s two-run single to center highlighted a four-run uprising in the fifth as South Tahoe extended its lead to 11-4.

“I’m just glad we were able to play strong defense and finally turn the lights out,” Miller said.

Eymann equalled Burgueno with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate. He also led South Tahoe with four runs scored.

South Tahoe can still land a top seed and very likely will go into the next round with at least a third seed.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing some of these other teams. I feel our pool was the stronger pool of the two,” Miller said.

South Tahoe’s 10-11 All-Stars was on the short end of another close game on Tuesday, losing to Reno National 2-1. They can still qualify for the quarterfinals by beating North Valleys on Thursday and and Carson City on Friday.