Bruso, ‘Uppy’ pitch Tahoe to tourney title in Sparks
Tahoe Avalanche manager David Santee just sat back and relaxed as his pitching problems dissappeared on Sunday in Sparks.
With Bret Uppendahl and Greg Bruso, two of South Tahoe High’s top athletes from the 1990s handling the pitching duties, the Avalanche won the Jason Cork Memorial Baseball Tournament.
Uppendahl, a sophomore quarterback at the University of Pennsylvania, only surrendered three hits while fanning 14 as Tahoe edged the Reno Aces 3-2 in its first game Sunday.
Bruso, a sophomore pitcher for the UC-Davis, was almost as overpowering against tournament favorite Tribe I, striking out 11 and allowing four hits in a 5-3 victory.
“The players played with a lot of confidence with those two guys on the hill,” Santee said. “It gives them a lot of confidence when they see a lot of strikes being thrown.”
That was a missing ingredient during the first few weeks of the Senior Babe Ruth/Connie Mack season as the Avalanche’s team earned run average climbed to 12 runs per game.
“Before we were getting it done everywhere else but on the mound, and this weekend we got it done on the mound,” Santee said.
Uppendahl was staked to a 3-0 lead against the Aces. Kenny Nicole scored the first run, walking to lead off the third inning. Austin Merritt sacrificed him to second base and Matt Tretton followed with an RBI double. Merritt made it 2-0, stealing home on a botched squeeze play with the bases loaded. Nate Muren’s grounder was mipslayed for an error, allowing Thrace Ramsey to score the eventual winning run in the fifth inning.
Uppendahl wobbled a bit in the bottom of the inning, allowing a two-run homer and then proceeded to load the bases with none out on two walks and a hit.
“I wondered about taking him out for about two seconds, and then he struck out their two, three and four hitters with the bases loaded,” Santee said.
Uppendahl bared down each time a runner got in scoring position, stranding five Aces on third base with less than two outs.
Bruso also was in command in his compete-game effort against Sparks Tribe I.
“He had to get out of a couple of jams, but he did it easily. He was throwing gas, to say the least,” Santee said. “Beating the Tribe was something we were waiting for. We wanted to prove we could play with them.”
Merritt and Chad Cooke combined for six hits, and tournament MVP Nate Muren was 2 for 3 with two runs scored.
The Avalanche opened the tournament by downing the Nevada Yankees 6-2 on Saturday. STHS product David McKenna pitched a six-inning complete game, giving up three hits and fanning five.
Muren had half of the club’s four hits, while Viking alum Jeff Jensen delivered a run-scoring single.
Afteward, the Avalanche dropped a 10-3 decision to the Merced Junior College team. Ramsey was 2 for 4 and Muren hit a sacrifice fly.
Tahoe, 10-8, opens its Fourth of July Tournament with an 9 a.m. encounter with Belmont on Thursday at Todd Fields.
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