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Gerken’s heroics gives STHS victory

Steve Yingling

South Tahoe High’s bats were producing as many smash hits as Vanilla Ice.

But the smattering of hits was all but forgotten when Greg Gerken clouted a dramatic two-run seventh-inning homer, allowing South Tahoe to salvage a doubleheader split with Wooster on Monday in South Lake Tahoe.

Gerken’s homer, only the sixth Viking hit in 12 innings, capped a three-run rally as Tahoe won 3-2 after dropping its Northern Nevada League AAAA home opener, 2-1.

“It’s the first one I’ve ever hit out of our home field. It’s pretty special,” said Gerken, who was 3 for 5 in two games.

Wooster was poised for a sweep after pushing across two runs in the top of the seventh. The Colts broke up Bret Uppendahl shutout on a fielder’s choice and a single.

But the Vikings showed the determination of a small child looking for his family’s candy stash.

After Greg Bruso, who pitched a gem in the opener, fanned, Chris Barna laced a single that went through the center fielder’s legs. Barna capitalized on the error by taking second base, then Dan Huber entered as a pinch-runner.

Scott Fair cut the Wooster lead to 2-1 by singling in Huber, setting up Gerken’s heroics.

Gerken didn’t go up to the plate thinking homer, but the senior knew which pitch he desired.

“I went up there looking for a single. They were trying to keep the ball away from me all day because I was hitting it pretty hard, so I was sitting on a curveball, and he just hung one,” Gerken said.

Gerken never saw the ball clear the fence in left-center, but he didn’t miss the mob scene waiting for him at home plate.

“The euphoria of that was amazing,” he said.

Added Viking coach Ralph Clelan, “He crushed it. It was every bit of 380 feet.”

Gerken made a winner out of Uppendahl, who patiently waited for some support. “Uppy” gave up six hits, struck out two and walked three, including two intentional passes.

Uppendahl was more fortunate than Bruso. The junior right-hander handcuffed the Colts on two hits, struck out seven and walked one.

However, four errors contributed to the only two runs the Colts needed.

“Our pitching has been tremendous. I can’t ask for any more,” Clelan said. “Greg pitched his heart out. We just didn’t take care of the ball.”

South Tahoe never figured out Cody Getz. The Wooster left-hander only surrendered a Gerken double in the third inning while striking out four and walking one. His five-inning stint only required 50 pitches.

The Vikings scored their lone run in the first frame when Heggen’s ground ball plated Scott Souers.

With Getz just loosening up, the Colts elected to start him in the second game. The move paid off as Getz gave up two hits, struck out four and walked one in six innings.

But as soon as Getz left, the Vikings rediscovered their missing hitting attack.

“If we would have lost (both) it could have been the end of our season, so this could be our turning point,” Gerken said.

The Vikings, 4-10 in league and 8-13 overall, play host to rival Carson on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

“This win brings the team into a good state of mind going into another big game. We have some confidence,” Gerken said.


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