Home sweet home for Babe Ruth All-Stars
It was a case of home sweet home for the South Tahoe 15-Year-Old Babe Ruth All-Stars this weekend as the host team beat Carson City and North Valley at the Nevada state tournament.
“The kids are all rising to the occasion, the crowd is getting behind us and we’re making all the plays,” South Tahoe manager John Rice said. “These kids believe in themselves and that makes all the difference.”
South Tahoe pounded out 26 hits in the two games, with 12 coming during Sunday’s 8-4 win over North Valley. They scored two runs in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings as Ian Rice, Elijah Townsend and Chris Diana combined to hold North Valley to six hits.
South Tahoe made only one error to North Valley’s five as well, a key stat as John Rice said defense would determine his team’s success.
Bo Hallam got things started for South Tahoe, who were the visitors on their home field, by slapping a double down the third-base line. Rice followed with a ringing shot into the left-center gap to plate Hallam, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Diana’s infield single.
Michael Orman got the big hit in the second, driving home two runs with a single through a drawn-in North Valley infield. South Tahoe scored two unearned runs in the fourth and Townsend chased North Valley starter Sean Smith with a two-run single to cap the team’s scoring.
Rice started fast on the mound, striking out the side in the opening frame on only 11 pitches, but ran into trouble in the third inning. Pitching for the second day in a row, he put the first three runners on base with two doubles and a walk. He struck out the next two hitters, but Smith came through with a two-run single before Rice could stop the bleeding.
North Valley third baseman Eric Benham did some literal bleeding in the sixth inning. Rice hit him a ground ball with on first base and Benham threw to second to force , but the runner didn’t get the signal and kept going as the relay throw went to first. First baseman Brandon Parrent reacted quickly with a throw back to Benham that bounced and caught the fielder directly on the nose, causing a gush of blood and a long delay. Benham eventually stopped bleeding and continued to play.
Rice finished his maximum four innings before giving way to Townsend, who allowed only one hit in his allotted two innings (he threw five on Saturday). Diana threw the final frame, allowing an unearned run.
Saturday’s game was a shootout as South Tahoe prevailed over Carson City, 13-7. Rice started that game as well and was roughed up, being pulled in the third inning, but Townsend came on to slow things down. The South Tahoe bats were hot as they rapped out 14 hits and pulled away in the middle innings.
The two wins set up a Tuesday showdown with South Reno, the region’s traditional powerhouse. John Rice referred to the South Reno players as “monsters” and was happier about earning a day off than facing the double-elimination tournament’s top seed. Rice has seen what South Reno can do over the past few years, as he’s been involved with his son’s All-Star teams each summer.
“My catcher (Garrett Gibb) is all bruised up, so he’ll appreciate having a day’s rest,” Rice said. “We’ve never won the first two games of a tournament before, so the kids are fired up.”
The South Tahoe 14-Year-Old All-Stars started the state tournament with a bang as Ryan Woods threw 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball to lead the team to a 4-0 win over Carson City on Saturday.
Woods allowed only a bloop single and three walks while striking out nine. Michael Olivo had two hits and two RBIs, including a single that scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning.
South Tahoe dropped Sunday’s game to South Reno, 11-1. South Reno pounded out 11 hits to South Tahoe’s two, and the South Tahoe pitchers didn’t do themselves any favors by racking up eight hit batsmen. Ivan Trebotich and P.J. Reilly had South Tahoe’s hits.
South Tahoe will play in the losers’ bracket at 6 p.m. tonight at Don Mello Field in Sparks.