Historic season: Vikings storm into playoffs as league champ, top seed

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe baseball has recorded its best season ever which includes a league championship and the top seed in the regional playoff tournament that begins this week.

“This has been the absolute best season for South Tahoe baseball,” said Vikings head coach Mark Shehadi. “And we will return everybody next year because they are all juniors. I’m sure our league doesn’t like that. But we have some adversity to face this week with some guys out, but we’re looking forward to it.”

The Vikings clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago and clinched the top seed and North West League title last week with a 3-game sweep of North Valleys.

Shehadi said the key to the Vikings success this season has been the strong ties the group has built by playing together for several years.

“These kids have known each other forever,” Shehadi said. “It’s team unity. The bonds these kids have is strong. They all have fun, trust each other and have bonded in a magical way.”

“These kids have known each other forever. It’s team unity. The bonds these kids have is strong. They all have fun, trust each other and have bonded in a magical way.” — Vikings head coach Mark Shehadi

The Vikings finished the regular season on Saturday, May 7, by completing a 3-game sweep of Sparks at South Tahoe Middle School. The Vikings hammered the Railroaders 10-0 in five innings on Friday and then came back Saturday with two more wins, 10-1 in the first game of a doubleheader and 17-2 in four innings in the nightcap, in which South Tahoe scored four runs in the fourth to walk off with the sweep.

In the series opener, eight Vikings combined for nine hits which led to scoring runs in all five innings. South Tahoe scored one run in each of the first four innings and then walked off with the victory after scoring six times in the fifth.

At the plate, Garrett Friederici had two hits and scored a run, Ian Ross singled and scored twice, Jordan Gomez crossed the plate three times, Evan Orr tripled and drove in two runs, Forrest Jones singled and had two RBIs, JR Elizalde doubled, scored and drove in a run and Christopher Haven, Luke Laub and Paden Magdelano each singled and had RBIs.

On the mound, South Tahoe’s ace, Ross, again dominated. Ross pitched all five innings allowing just three hits, no walks while striking out 11.

Ross has had an amazing season and has a microscopic earned run average (1.07). He has thrown 45 ⅔ innings allowing 28 hits and 10 walks while whiffing 82.

The Vikings picked up on Saturday where they left off Friday.

They scored three in the first inning, led 4-1 after four and put the game away with a four-run fifth.

Five Vikings had two hits apiece. Friederici singled, doubled, drove in two and scored twice, Laub singled twice and drove in two, Elizalde doubled and tripled and scored two runs, Gomez and Ross each doubled and singled and Haven singled and scored twice.

Laub, South Tahoe’s second ace, hurled four innings allowing three hits, one walk and one unearned run while striking out five. Elizalde pitched three innings and gave up one hit and struck out four.

Laub has thrown 32 ⅓ innings and has allowed 31 hits, just two walks and five earned runs while striking out 45. His ERA is just a tick higher than Ross’ at 1.08.

South Tahoe ended the regular season with their bats on fire. The Vikings pounded out 19 hits in four innings, including seven extra base hits.

South Tahoe actually trailed 1-0 before ripping off 13 straight runs to lead 13-1 after three innings.

Laub went 4-for-4 with two doubles and six RBIs to pace the powerful offensive attack.

Also for the Vikings (24-7, 20-1 3A North West League), Gomez went 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored and two driven in, Ross blasted a home run and singled and drove in two, Orr tripled twice and drove in three, Jones singled twice and scored three times, Haven doubled, singled and scored twice and Elizalde had two hits and two runs.

Jones earned the victory on the mound by tossing all four innings allowing two hits, three walks and two runs while striking out five.

The Vikings have earned a bye in the first round of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Northern Region Baseball Playoffs that begin Thursday at Lowry high School in Winnemucca.

South Tahoe will play the winner between No. 4 Truckee and No. 5 North Valleys at 2 p.m. Thursday in the double elimination bracket.

Should the Vikings win, they will play the winner between No. 2 Fernley and No. 3 Churchill County or No. 6 Dayton at 2 p.m. Friday.

The championship will be decided on Saturday.

The Vikings are expecting to face defending state champ Truckee in their first game.

“To me that would be a championship game to face Truckee right off the bat,” Shehadi said.

The top two teams, the two regional finalists, will advance to the state tournament that will be held Thursday through Saturday, May 19-21, at Fernley High School.

South Tahoe celebrates a victory over rival Truckee earlier this year. The Vikings first playoff game on Thursday may be against Truckee.
Provided/Hans Baumann/AbDiver Photography
The double elimination bracket for the Class 3A Northern Region Baseball Playoffs.

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