Vikings, Wolverines bask in pro experience
RENO – Years from now baseball players from South Tahoe and Truckee high schools will retell the story of the day they played in a professional baseball stadium.
On Monday, the Lake Tahoe schools were given a rare opportunity of holding their nonleague game at Aces Ballpark – the home of the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Though a little wide-eyed at the beginning, both teams settled down to play an entertaining extra-inning game won by the Wolverines, 11-8.
“It was pretty surreal,” said Truckee coach Mike Ellis. “I’ve played in lots of parks like this, but for these guys it was awesome. We’re going to do it every year if we can.
“Families, the parents, the kid – they all enjoyed it. It was a blast.”
Truckee cleanup hitter Maclane Brady socked a pair of two-run triples, but it was Morgan Nevin’s triple on the first offering from Tanner Braun that triggered the winning rally in the eighth inning. Jordan Deiro belted Truckee’s fourth triple of the game – a shot off the base of the wall in left field to break a 7-7 tie. A Brian Matthew sacrifice fly made the score 9-7, and the Wolverines added two insurance runs before the rally ended. James DePew scurried across home plate on a passed ball, and Ryan Zusy scored on a Matt Theis base hit.
South Tahoe, which forced the extra inning with a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, didn’t go quietly in the eighth. Walks to Andrew Contaxis and Ricky Braun prompted Ellis to bring in reliever Ben Bolton. Bolton got two quick outs, coaxing a 4-6-3 double-play ground ball from Tanner Braun. Contaxis scored on the play to make the score 11-8.
But the Vikings didn’t let Bolton record the final out as Connor Casey singled to right field, Max DeLallo walked and Jamie Yelles hit a 1-2 pitch into center field to load the bases. That turn of events provoked Ellis to bring on Zusy in relief, and the senior ended the 3-hour, 15-minute battle by forcing Rigel Garman to ground out to second.
“Both teams showed a lot of heart,” Ellis said. “It was good fun, saved a lot of guys for league, but that just showed that our backup guys could come in and get it done, too.”
With Truckee leading 7-4 in the seventh, DeLallo ripped a triple that bounced to the 424-mark in right-center field, scoring Tanner Braun and Casey.
“At the beginning of the season my approach was more to pull everything,” DeLallo said. “I worked with my batting coach a lot to readjust and take the ball to right field.”
Yelles followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate DeLallo with the tying run.
South Tahoe left the winning run 90 feet away when Garman walked, stole second base on a 2-0 pitch and took third with two outs on a wild pitch. But Theis, the Wolverines’ fourth reliever to that point, squeezed the final out on a high popup by freshman Tyler Sharp.
“When we tied it at 7, I almost wanted to run to their coach and say, ‘Nobody should lose this game. You want to push?’ I thought we could win it,” said South Tahoe coach Don Amaral. “We couldn’t get the key hit, but I think I got 21 or 22 kids into the game.”
The first high school game ever played in the year-old stadium in downtown Reno came about after both schools agreed to sell a combined 1,000 tickets to future Aces’ games.
“It’s something that I got to do when I was in high school. It’s something that probably 99.9 percent of these guys are never gonna reach this level, but it’s a very opportunity, and I hope that it sticks with them fro a long time,” said Aces’ account executive Dan Izzo.
“Hopefully it’s something we can continue to do with the schools in the area.”
DeLallo started on the mound for the Vikings – four days after throwing 133 pitches in a 4-2 win against Sparks on Thursday. He pitched two scoreless innings and fanned four before shifting to first base.
“I was really looking forward to this,” DeLallo said. “It’s not every day you get to come pitch in a great stadium like this. The mounds are nice, the grass is nice. It was just a really good experience.”
Notes: With the marathon game approaching darkness, Izzo said that the game likely would have been called after nine innings since the schools weren’t permitted to play under the stadium lights … since the schools will play in the same Mount Rose League next year, Ellis said that at least one of the games between the schools will return to Aces Ballpark … both cleanup hitters, DeLallo and Brady, each finished with two hits and four RBI. For the Wolverines, Deiro, Matthew and Tanner Churich each collected two hits, while for the Vikings, Casey joined DeLallo with two hits … the teams combined for 11 stolen bases.
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