Higgins gets Jacks back on winning track, Truckee Tuesday | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Higgins gets Jacks back on winning track, Truckee Tuesday

Douglas Etten

Douglas Etten / Tahoe Daily TribuneCody Higgins, shown here throwing for South Tahoe High School during the 2011 spring season, got the nod Monday against Sparks and pitched the best outing of his young career. Behind him stand Tyler Sharp who led the offense with a four-hit, five-RBI evening. The team plays their second home contest of the year Tuesday against Truckee. Game time is set for 5 p.m.

SPARKS, Nev. – Two weeks back it was a fourth and fifth inning offensive spurt that fueled the Tahoe-based summer prep team to a 15-5 win over rival Sparks.

After dropping their first Joe Dimaggio League game of the year Friday at Reed, the Tahoe Bluejacks made the trip to Sparks Monday and saw a much better lineup in comparison to their early June matchup on the south shore.

That didn’t phase Jacks starting left-hander Cody Higgins who pitched what his coach said was the best game of his young career. Higgins struck out eight, went seven strong innings, worked around a five-run third and got the win for Tahoe who bruised Sparks once more in a 16-8 win.

“I’ve seen just about every pitch he’s ever thrown in any level of baseball, and this was by far the best he’s ever thrown,” coach, and father, Kevin Higgins said. “I’m proud of him, really proud of our guys and even more proud to be a part of this thing right now.”

Offensively, the Bluejacks did what any team likes to do in front of a pitchers first inning of work, and that is get out in front. After a Derek Clelan reached on a fielder’s choice, he stole both second and third to move into scoring position for Tyler Sharp who got his four-hit night started with an RBI double that put Tahoe up 1-0 early.

“He’s hitting the ball as well as anyone in our lineup right now,” coach Higgins said. “Sometimes you’re just seeing the ball really well, and that’s what Tyler is doing right now. Everything he’s hitting he’s driving, and that’s good to see.”

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Higgins’ night on the mound got off to a solid start in the first as he went one-two-three to get the Jacks back in the dugout where they picked back up right where they left off.

Back-to-back walks for Colton Marchesseault and Joey Wightman put runners on board for Oliver Curial who ripped a fastball into left to plate Marchesseault and make it 2-0 Bluejacks.

Following suit was Clelan who fought off an inside fastball and dropped in over the infield for another RBI single that made things 3-0 Bluejacks with one on and one out.

Both Curial and Clelan would end up scoring as a mishandle on Jake Braun’s ground ball was followed by back-to-back walks making it 5-0 Tahoe going into the bottom of the second.

Sparks got one back there as a one out double put the first runner in scoring position. After Higgins sawed off a hitter for the second out, a two-out RBI double made it 5-2 Bluejacks in the third.

Christian Coats got aboard with a bunt single to start things with one out. He was moved up 90-feet on a fielder’s choice from Curial before Weik earned first with his second hit by pitch on the night. Both he and Coats would come around to score on a well executed hit and run which got an assist when Clelan’s fly ball to left was misjudged.

Up now 7-2, Sparks made a push in the bottom of three as they were aided by a couple of Bluejacks miscues along with a two-run bomb that came on a 0-2 curve ball.

“After that inning, the whole team really buckled down and made some crucial plays,” coach Higgins said. “When you have a pitcher who’s throwing strikes like Cody was, you’re going to need your defense. We really haven’t hurt ourselves all that much this season defensively, and I think we learned a lot from that inning.”

Back on bat in the fourth, the momentum stayed with Sparks as they went through in order to get their bats back in the bottom half of the inning.

Higgins settled down from there nicely – striking out the first two batters before giving up a two-out walk. Sparks tried turning that walk into a double on a steal attempt, but a throw and tag play from Jake Braun to Clelan got the Jacks out of the inning and back to work offensively in the fifth.

Curial’s bat got the rally started there as his leadoff double lead to a sac-bunt attempt from Weik. The pitcher fielded the ball, but his throw had to be hurried and sailed into rightfield. That plated Curial and moved Weik all the way to third before Clelan was hit and a bases-clearing two-run single from Sharp made it 10-6 Jacks.

Higgins would allow an un-earned run in the fifth, work a scoreless sixth and then give up just one more in the seventh while getting a big offensive lift from his team in the last frame.

Three walks started the rally for Tahoe in the seventh. They were followed with RBI singles from Sharp and Marchesseault while Higgins and Wightman each raked doubles to pile on six runs in the seventh. More than enough cushion for Higgins and the Jacks defense which worked around two hits in the bottom of the seventh to get the win and move to 6-1 on the season.

Higgins gave up eight runs in the win, seven of which were earned. He struck out eight, walked just three on 96 pitches.

Offensively, Sharp led the way with a four for five night. He raked two doubles and finished with five runs batted in. Weik scored three runs from the leadoff spot, Clelan was two for four and scored four times and Curial was two for five in the nine spot, scoring twice and pounding two runs across.

The team will play again this evening at home with another Joe Dimaggio League showdown with Truckee. Game time is set for 5 p.m. in South Lake Tahoe.