South Tahoe baseball sweeps Sparks, delivers first victories of season
The South Tahoe baseball team tasted success for the first time last weekend, April 1-2 — and did so in decisive fashion. The Vikings swept Sparks in a three-game Div. I-A Northern League series at Todd Fields Park, wins that snapped a double-digit losing streak to start the season.
“It was nice to get our first win,” Vikings coach Starbuck Teevan said. “It’s nice for everybody — the coaches and players work hard.”
South Tahoe (3-11, 3-6 I-A Northern) delivered its first win of the season with a lopsided 10-0 victory in Friday’s series opener. After ending their 11-game winless streak, the Vikings then rolled to wins in Saturday’s doubleheader to complete the sweep of Sparks (3-7, 0-6).
“Ten-running them out of the gate was fun,” South Tahoe senior Josh Sullivan said.
In the series opener, the Vikings got six shutout innings from sophomore Chris Pfister and a used a big inning to convincingly notch their first win. Ahead 3-0, South Tahoe scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to enact the 10-run rule against Sparks.
Pfister scattered three hits and a walk over six innings, striking out nine. The right-hander threw a 74-pitch complete game to notch his first win in four appearances.
“Chris threw lights out, our defense made all the plays and we got all of our timely hits,” Teevan said. “It all starts with the pitcher throwing strikes.”
Sullivan, senior Will Mori, and junior Garret Harley each collected two hits in Friday’s win. Mori went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run, Sullivan finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run, and Harley was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs.
South Tahoe opened Saturday’s doubleheader with a 16-6 victory in six innings. The Vikings jumped out to a 10-3 lead after three frames and closed the contest out in the bottom of the sixth with six straight two-out hits that led to six runs — and a second straight mercy rule.
“We’ve been realizing that we can hit, and we’ve taken a lot more swings in the cage and on the field,” Vikings senior Mason Cain said. “It helps a lot.”
Both teams traded a run in the first inning, then South Tahoe scored five in the second to take a 6-1 lead. The first four Vikings reached safely — including a two-run triple from Sullivan — then a one-out sacrifice fly from senior Paul Hoefer and two-out RBI triple from Cain put STHS ahead by five runs.
South Tahoe made it 10-3 in the next inning with four runs on three hits, including a two-out RBI single from Harley. But the Vikings were held scoreless over the next two frames by slow-throwing Sparks reliever Manny Sambrano, and saw their lead shrink to 10-6 by the start of the sixth inning.
“We just kept letting them back in the game,” Sullivan said. “We could have kept scoring, but we seemed to let off the gas a little bit. We need to learn to be at 100 percent all the time.”
In the sixth, South Tahoe’s offense came alive against Sambrano to put the game away. With two outs, the Vikings produced six straight hits — including five to right-centerfield — and ultimately won the game on an RBI single from Hoefer that created a 10-run margin.
“It took us a few innings to get the timing of the slower pitching, but at the end it happened,” Teevan said. “It’s a timing thing — letting the ball travel and get deeper in the zone.”
The Vikings had 15 hits in the first game of Saturday’s twinbill, led by three-hit efforts from Cain and senior Justin Ruger. Cain went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs while Ruger finished 3-for-4 with three runs.
Harley (2-for-5, three RBIs, three runs), Sullivan (2-for-4, three RBIs, two runs) and junior Caleb Russell (2-for-3, RBI, two runs) also collected multiple hits in Saturday’s opener. Hoefer, Mori and sophomore Tyler Wattanachinda each added a hit, RBI and run.
Senior Moises Cuevas pitched a complete 6.0 innings in the win, allowing four earned runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and three walks. After an uneven start, the right-hander retired the last five Sparks batters he faced.
The Vikings secured the sweep with an 8-4 win in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. South Tahoe erased a 3-0 deficit and Ruger allowed one run in 6.0 innings of relief to keep Sparks winless in league play.
After pitching 4.0 innings in his first four appearances combined, Ruger threw the final six in Saturday’s series finale. The senior gave up one run, none earned, on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
South Tahoe fell behind 3-0 in the top of the second, but answered with six runs in the next half-inning. The Vikings didn’t trail the rest of the way. The game ended with three scoreless innings after the hosts went in front 8-4.
The Vikings did their scoring in Saturday’s second game on only five hits, and Harley led the way by going 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs. Junior Alex Aguirre finished 1-for-1 with an RBI and two runs and Cain went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
After losing its first 11 games of the season, South Tahoe got in win column with three straight. The Vikings are currently tied for fifth with Lowry in the Div. I-A Northern standings, ahead of Truckee, Sparks and Dayton — all winless in league play.
“We were all kind of down after the 0-11 start, and these wins have been great,” Sullivan said.
South Tahoe returned to action Tuesday, April 5, at Dayton. The Vikings travel to play Truckee this weekend, April 8-9. Friday’s series opener starts at 3 p.m. and first pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 11 a.m.