Unusual start for Viking 9 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Unusual start for Viking 9

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

For the first time during his five-year tenure as South Tahoe High baseball coach, Doug Russell has a team that has practiced outdoors before its first Nevada 4A Sierra Division game.

Russell’s Vikings have left their familiar cramped confines of the school gym and practiced at Todd Fields for the past two days. They’ll travel to Reno today for their division opener at 3:30 p.m.

“Of course, it’s not truly baseball season until you get outside and you bring the snow with you,” Russell joked. “We’re ahead of where we’ve been the last couple of years and we have some games under our belts. We have a group of kids who are excited about going out and playing and not being intimidated by anybody.”

Junior pitcher Peter Maes will get the start for the Vikings. Maes was nearly unhittable in his previous outing, tossing a two-hit shutout against Dayton in the Carson tournament last Friday. Maes struck out nine and Chris Thorne and Marcus McKinnon each delivered a pair of hits in the 8-0 victory.

The Vikings finished the three-day tournament with a 2-3 record.

On Saturday, Russell gave several junior varsity players an opportunity to play in an 8-3 loss to White Pine.

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“The whole team struggled, we committed four errors and we had too many walks,” Russell said.

Justin Keys and Randy Henson led the Vikings at the plate, combining for three hits.

South Tahoe concluded the tournament with a confidence-building 7-4 defeat to Mount Tamalpais of the Bay Area.

“Mount Tamalpais was a real strong team, so it was nice to see we matched up with a bigger school from the Bay Area,” Russell said.

South Tahoe nearly sent the game into extra innings when McKinnon hit a 400-blast to center field with two outs in the seventh inning. However, a Tamalpais outfielder made a sparkling catch to rob the Vikings, who had runners on first and second bases.

“If that ball falls, Marcus is looking at a triple and maybe even an inside the parker to tie it up,” Russell said. “That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes … someone makes an all-star caliber play.”

Pitchers Bobby Gienapp, Shawn McLaughlin and A.J. Russo kept the Vikings within striking range.

STHS’s scheduled home doubleheader against Reno will be played at the Huskies’ field on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.