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Ayrault plays like big-leaguer in homecoming

Steve Yingling

Homecomings don’t get much sweeter than the one former major league pitcher Bob Ayrault experienced on Sunday.

Ayrault, who played Little League baseball and attended Tahoe Valley Elementary School in South Lake Tahoe, came home to play semipro baseball for the Tahoe Emeralds at Todd Fields.

And he performed like someone feeling right at home.

Ayrault jacked a two-run homer during his four-hit performance and pitched two scoreless innings as the Emeralds obliterated the San Francisco Angels 26-6 in the finale of a three-game set.

“He said it would be good to get in a few inning works, so I just gave him the ball. I don’t ask too many questions (when someone like that wants to pitch),” said Emeralds manager Gary Shidaker.

By the time right-handed Ayrault entered the game, he probably could have thrown left-handed and held off the Angels. The Angels’ only hit off Ayrault was a bunt single.

South Tahoe High graduate Chris Barna, who plans to walk on as a catcher at University of Nevada this fall, gave the Emeralds the lead for good, 7-3, with a grand slam in the third inning.

Barna’s big day at the plate also included three singles, six RBIs and three runs scored.

The 6-4 receiver, who is only 19, is becoming more comfortable behind the plate as he’s responding to the added pressure of calling his own pitches.

“He’s coming along in all phases of the game. Our pitchers used to shake him off a lot, but now they hardly ever do,” Shidaker said. “And he fits right in there with Konopisos, Tommy Mitchell and Ayrault. I have some big dudes on this team. They’re all right around 6-5.”

Firepower also came off the bats of Jason Mears, Chris Kahl and Matt Konopisos. Mears, the Reno Chukars former hitting instructor, stroked three doubles in a 4-for-7 performance and scored three times. Nevada players Konopisos and Kahl went 4 for 6 and 3 for 6, respectively. Konopisos went yard twice and scored three runs, while Kahl scored four runs.

The Emeralds opened the series by splitting a doubleheader on Saturday. Tahoe won the opener, 10-2, behind Greg Phillips’ five-hitter and Konopisos’ two bombs. Konopisos hit a solo homer in the fifth inning and a three-run shot in the sixth.

Having to play four pitchers in the field in game two, the Emeralds lost 12-9.

Joe Inglett, a former California Prep Player of the Year from Death Valley, and Darin Faust kept things close. Inglett was 3 for 4 with three runs scored and Faust was 2 for 3.

Faust was the toughest out all weekend, going 13 for 16.

The Emeralds, 25-15, compete in the U.S. Open, starting Friday at Lampe Park in Gardnerville. Tahoe opens with the International Baseball Academy at 9 a.m. They are scheduled to play the Angels at noon Saturday and the Sacramento A’s at 4 p.m. Sunday in the pool-play tournament format.

Shidaker hopes the team that began the season 9-1 shows up to play during the next few weekends.

“We’re looking to finish as hot as we started because we have nothing but big games left,” Shidaker said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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