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Emeralds split home openers

Michael Traum

In their first home outings of the season, the Tahoe Emeralds split a pair with the Merced Mustangs and the Nevada Yankees over the weekend.

In Saturday’s opener, Tahoe pitcher Mark Wood settled after a slow start to down Merced, 9-6, at South Tahoe Middle School’s Todd Fields.

Wood allowed a leadoff walk and a pair of singles as Merced jumped up 2-0 in the first. Tahoe answered as Dustin Bria singled, then scored on a Jim Woods double. Another walk, triple and error put the visitors ahead 4-1 after one-and-a-half frames. But Tahoe kept Wood in it, as Brett Pagni doubled and scored on a Starbuck Teevan two-bagger, for a 4-2 deficit.

Tahoe’s right-hander put the support to work, allowing just one run on four hits through the next five innings.

“He’s Mr. Consistent. Right now everyone else seems to be just a four- or five-inning pitcher. A lot of the other guys haven’t had the chance to play a 60-game college season or have to work a lot,” said Tahoe coach Gary Shidaker. “I’ve seem him sharper, but even without his top game, he’s effective.”

Tahoe’s offense returned the favor. With one out in the fourth, Bria crushed a two-run bomb over the right-center fence, scoring Aaron Wicklund to tie it at 4-4. Pagni later doubled to score Dan McCauley as Tahoe plated five runs in the frame to secure the lead.

“We beat a good, young team and continued our role. It’s what we needed to do,” Shidaker said.

Woods allowed five runs on seven hits with six Ks and three walks through seven. K.J. Cameron worked the eighth and ninth, dishing up just one run on four hits and two walks to collect the save. Pagni led Tahoe at the dish, going 3 for 4 with a triple, two doubles and two runs. Wicklund was 2 for 3 with two runs, while Mike Griffis was 2 for 5, Bria 2 for 4 with a bomb and McCauley 1 for 3 with a triple.

On Sunday, Tahoe faced University of Nevada hurler Greg Zappin, who kept the home team scoreless through seven innings, as the Yankees won, 8-2.

“We knew the Yankees would be good and we came up against a buzzsaw. Four of the five games the Yankees have lost were one-run games,” Shidaker said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”

Tahoe starter Mike Traum allowed four runs in four innings of work to take the loss. The 1987 South Tahoe graduate gave up just four hits, including two solo homers, with four walks. Forest Westover replaced Traum in the top of the fifth. He worked two-and-two-thirds frames, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Cameron worked a scoreless ninth.

“I got out of Traum just about what I expected. He needs to get more innings and round his arm into shape. There were just a couple of mistakes, but it’s something he can definitely build from,” Shidaker said.

Tahoe finally got to Zappin in the seventh, as Pagni singled and scored on a Teevan single. Pagni’s second hit on the day plated Griffis in the eighth to round out the scant Tahoe scoring. The Emeralds took themselves out of many rallies, as Zappin picked off an impressive four Tahoe baserunners.

Griffis finished 2 for 4 with a double, while McCauley added a double and Woods, Teevan and Matt Tillson singled. Thirteen-year-old Chris Hannum smacked a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning during his only at-bat of the weekend. The team awarded him the game ball.

“Every year I bring out a kid, but it’s usually a 15-year-old. Thirteen is a record for the Emeralds. He showed me confidence all week and he carried it into the game. I wouldn’t have put him in if I thought he didn’t have a chance to produce. I wish I could’ve used him more,” Shidaker said.

Zappin led the Yankees, scattering five hits with six fans and two walks. His arm effort spurred his teammate’s sticks, as both Ted Foster and Cameron White were 2 for 4 with bombs. Brad Rogers was 3 for 4, Matt Wheeler was 2 for 5 and Jon Storke 2 for 5 with a home run.

Tahoe (10-7) hosts the San Francisco Expos next Friday and Saturday at Todd Fields.


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