South Tahoe All-Stars run table in Babe Ruth 14-year-old Nevada tournament, claim state championship
RENO, Nev. — The latest South Shore baseball team to deliver a state championship achieved the feat in straightforward fashion. The South Tahoe All-Stars won the Babe Ruth 14-year-old state tournament, claiming the crown with a 6-2 win over Sparks at Tighe Park on Saturday, July 9.
“It’s huge for these guys,” South Tahoe manager Jeff Long said. “From Little League on, this group has been together on multiple All-Star teams throughout the years. We’ve come close a few times, but this is the first time they were able to close the deal.”
En route to the title, South Tahoe won three games in four days in the tournament held July 6-9. The local All-Stars became the second South Lake Tahoe team in as many seasons to claim state bragging rights on the Babe Ruth diamond.
“They were a little shocked that they were able to do it without having to win a close game,” Long said. “Our pitchers were throwing strikes and our defense was making plays — that’s what it came down to.”
South Tahoe secured the championship by beating Sparks 6-2 on Saturday. Right-hander Rico Aguila pitched a complete game — the team’s third of the tournament — and the local All-Stars produced the necessary offense to close out the championship in three games.
“The first two games set the table for the championship game,” Long said.
“It was nice that we got to play Sparks, because they didn’t see Rico pitch and we were able to throw him again.”
Ahead 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, South Tahoe’s hottest hitter of the tournament provided insurance runs to put the game out of reach. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jaxon Kennedy sent the first pitch he saw for a two-run double. Sparks walked Caleb Caramazza to get to Kennedy, who gave the local All-Stars a 6-1 advantage.
“Sparks never gave in and they kept battling all the way to the end,” Long said. “They had base runners on almost every inning against us — and they got a couple runs in the last game and tried to make a run.”
On Thursday, July 7, South Tahoe blanked Sparks 6-0 to advance to the championship. Starter Colby Glaze threw a complete game shutout, and the local All-Stars delivered an error-free performance to win their second game of the tournament.
South Tahoe had a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Caramazza punctuated the victory with a two-run home run to left field. The shot gave the All-Stars a commanding lead, and led to Sparks walking the South Tahoe High rising sophomore in the teams’ next meeting.
“Caleb had a guy on base and ripped one over the left-field fence,” Long said. “It was a blast and it cleared the fence by 20 feet.”
South Tahoe opened the tournament with an emphatic victory Wednesday, July 6. The All-Stars routed host South Reno 20-5 in five innings, erasing an early deficit en route to advancing into the winner’s bracket.
“Our offense was on fire,” Long said.
Headed into the third inning of its tournament opener, South Tahoe trailed 3-0. Then the visitors got their offense going, scoring 14 runs and sending 19 batters to the plate in the third.
“Our bats just came alive. Once we hit four and took the lead, they were all hungry to continue it,” Long said. “South Reno made a few mistakes that we were able to capitalize on, but for the most part we were just crushing the ball.”
South Reno never recovered after South Tahoe’s big inning. Aguila threw 5.0 innings for South Tahoe to notch his first of two wins in the tournament.
South Tahoe’s team of Aguila, Kennedy, Caramazza, Glaze, Josh Brackett, Kyle Clark, Carson Cobel, Chris Hoefer, Connor Long and Pearce Tanner now advances to play in the Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament. Regional play begins Sunday, July 24, in Murray, Utah.
“If we do what we did in this tournament, I think we have a shot to compete,” Long said.
The South Tahoe 14-year-old All-Stars continued a recent trend of local success on the diamond with their state championship. From South Tahoe High qualifying for the NIAA state playoffs in 2014 to South Tahoe All-Stars winning the Babe Ruth 13-15 state title last year to local All-Stars capturing the Little League Intermediate 50/70 state crown in June, a strong baseball reputation is being built on the South Shore.
“We’re not the underdog anymore, we’re not the easy win like we used to be — and that’s from the younger guys all the way up. It’s great and I’m super proud of them,” Long said.
“South Tahoe is on the map for baseball now.”