Incline baseball splits pair with defending league champ Yerington
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Feet of snow on the baseball diamond.
Fielding grounders and taking batting practice indoors almost exclusively.
And opening the season with the defending 2A Northern League champs and state runner-up.
Those ingredients turned out to be a pretty good recipe for the Incline Highlanders.
Incline opened the season Friday by splitting a doubleheader with the Yerington Lions, winning Game 1 3-0 and losing the nightcap 4-0, in Yerington.
The Highlanders got two masterful pitching efforts, but the defense faltered in the loss.
“We got out of the gate well, especially for a team that saw one and a half hours of practice on grass,” said Incline head coach Billy Knight. “It was a very encouraging way to start the season to beat the defending league champs. We had two outstanding pitching efforts to start the season.”
Incline scored single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings which was plenty for hurler Jake Harrell.
The junior dominated the Lions allowing just four hits and three walks while striking out 12 in the complete game.
He also helped himself at the plate with a double, single and RBI in three at-bats.
Jacob Leoncio added two hits, an RBI and three stolen bases, Dalton Fry doubled and scored, Brayden Hock singled and scored and Chase MacDonald singled in the Highlanders seven-hit attack.
Incline would have loved to take a mulligan in the first inning of Game 2.
The Highlanders couldn’t field the ball and surrendered three unearned runs.
From there, Fry shut down the Lions until a single run in the sixth. He allowed just two hits and zero walks in six innings while fanning four.
At the dish, the Highlanders could muster just three singles from Harrell, Hock and Garen Cross.
Beating Yerington should give the Highlanders high hopes after losing to the perennial powerhouse Lions four times last year by a combined score of 45-8, including an 11-0 playoff defeat.
The Highlanders (1-1 2A Northern League) next play a three-game series Friday and Saturday against host Battle Mountain (4-2, 2-1 Northern).
The Highlanders crushed the Longhorns’ playoff hopes last season by sweeping a doubleheader to end the regular season.
Incline in the nightcap scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win a thriller and advance to postseason. The Highlanders rightfully celebrated wildly while the Longhorns were left gutted.
“I’m not sure how many players they have that were there last year, but we’re optimistic,” Knight said. “We’ve got a good balance of seniors and young kids that will hopefully learn to step up.”