South Tahoe baseball wins one at league champion Spring Creek, secures third straight playoff berth
SPRING CREEK, Nev. — For the third season in a row, the South Tahoe baseball team is playoff bound. The Vikings secured Div. I-A Northern League’s last postseason berth with an 8-5 win at league-leading Spring Creek in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday, May 5.
“It’s been an up-and-down season and it was nice to get that win at Spring Creek — the kids worked hard for it,” Vikings coach Starbuck Teevan said. “We’re very happy.”
South Tahoe (9-19, 9-14 I-A Northern) broke through against league champion Spring Creek (24-5, 20-4) on Thursday after a pair of double-digit losses to the Spartans. That victory combined with a pair of Lowry losses at Fernley later that day ensured the Vikings would go to regionals as the sixth seed — and led to a happy bus ride home.
“We knew if we took care of our own business that we wouldn’t have to worry about what Lowry and Fernley did,” Teevan said. “An hour into our bus ride home, we found out Lowry lost the first game of the series — then we found out they lost the second game.”
In the series finale, South Tahoe held off Spring Creek for an 8-5 victory. The Vikings scored three in the first inning and didn’t trail the rest of the way, converting chances and riding a strong pitching performance from an unlikely source.
Senior Caleb Russell threw 6.1 innings in the victory, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with two strikeouts and eight walks. Prior to Thursday’s start, Russell had thrown 6.2 innings the entire season in four appearances.
“Caleb did a great job throwing strikes and our defense pretty much made all the plays behind him,” Teevan said. “He really hasn’t thrown much all year, and he threw really well for us — every time I give him the ball, he’s excited and he wants it.”
Russell also led the Vikings offensively in the win, finishing 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Freshman Kevin Lehmann (two RBIs, one run) and senior Josh Sullivan each went 2-for-4 while senior Mason Cain had a hit, RBI and three runs and senior Will Mori added a hit and a run.
The Vikings delivered in their second-to-last game of the season to secure a third consecutive postseason appearance. The victory also gives South Tahoe momentum after a stretch of five straight losses.
“Getting that win, a little bit of momentum and a little bit of confidence is what this team needs,” Teevan said. “We know we can play with anybody when we play the game the right way.”
In the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader, South Tahoe lost a 19-8 slugfest. The Vikings kept up with Spring Creek in a back-and-forth contest before the hosts produced a seven-run sixth to enact the 10-run rule.
Russell had three of South Tahoe’s eight hits in Thursday’s opener, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs. Sullivan was 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run, and senior Justin Ruger had two hits and a run.
The Vikings opened the series with an 11-0 loss to the Spartans in six innings on Wednesday, May 4. Spring Creek starter Matt Mills held South Tahoe to four hits, including two from Cain.
South Tahoe concludes its regular season at home Monday, May 9, against Fernley at Todd Fields Park. The Vikings will honor their seniors Monday in a game that will likely determine their first-round opponent in regionals. In all likelihood, a win means a rematch with Fernley while a loss will result in a matchup with Elko.
“There’s not as much pressure, but we’re playing to win,” Teevan said. “Hopefully we can tune up, then go out to Spring Creek and see if we can’t give some teams a little bit of trouble.”