State supremacy: South Tahoe All-Stars win back-to-back Nevada Babe Ruth 13-15 championships in dominant fashion
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — For the second straight summer, Nevada’s top prize in Babe Ruth baseball belongs to the South Tahoe All-Stars. The local all-star team defended its title at the Babe Ruth 13-15-year-old state tournament, securing back-to-back championships with a 20-1 win over South Reno at Todd Fields Park on Sunday, July 17.
“It’s awesome,” South Tahoe manager Ryan Schouten said. “These kids have worked so hard and it all came together for them.”
South Tahoe won four games in four days on its home field to deliver the championship, outscoring its opponents 67-7. The local All-Stars needed one win Sunday against one-loss South Reno, and left no doubt with a lopsided five-inning victory to cap an unbeaten tournament run.
“We talked about coming out today and making a statement,” Schouten said. “From the time that they warmed up, you could tell they were ready to play.”
The local All-Stars opened the scoring in the top of the first Sunday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on an RBI triple from Tristan Futch and sacrifice fly from Jose Burgueno in consecutive at-bats. In the next inning, South Tahoe broke the game open.
“We came out confident and we didn’t want to leave any doubt that we were the best team out here,” said Futch, a rising junior at Douglas High. “We want to come out here and talk with the bats.”
South Tahoe scored seven runs on four hits in the top of the second to take a commanding 9-0 lead. The All-Stars sent 10 batters to the plate as part of an inning that featured a three-run double by Burgueno along with RBI singles from Kevin Lehmann and Cameron Johnson.
“That was the goal today — jump on them early and leave no doubt,” Schouten said. “It’s one thing to know what they have to do, and it’s another thing to do it. We went out and delivered right away.”
Ahead by nine runs after the second inning, South Tahoe stretched its lead to 19-0 with back-to-back five-run frames. That offensive outburst combined with a strong performance from starting pitcher Tyler Wattanachinda and stellar defense led to the All-Stars claiming the championship in dominant fashion.
“The expectation was to win, but going out and doing it is a whole other story,” Schouten said. “It’s super special for them to repeat.”
Wattanachinda allowed one run on four hits in 5.0 innings, striking out three and walking two. The right-hander kept South Reno off the board until the bottom of the fifth, allowing two hits in the first four frames with a strike-heavy outing.
“I just had to throw strikes and let my defense work,” said Wattanachinda, a rising junior at South Tahoe High. “It was pretty stellar and there were great plays — all around I couldn’t ask for more.”
South Tahoe collected 16 hits in Sunday’s championship, including three apiece from Futch, Johnson and Kyle Dane. Futch finished 3-4 with two triples, four RBIs and four runs, Johnson was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run, and Dane went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs. Burgueno added four RBIs in two at-bats.
“With our lineup, no matter who we have in it’s always going to be a dominant team,” Wattanachinda said. “We have a lot of speed and a lot of power.”
The local All-Stars’ second consecutive state title is the unprecedented third championship of the summer on the diamond for a South Tahoe team. South Tahoe also brought home the Babe Ruth 14-year-old crown in early July and the Little League Intermediate 50/70 Division title in June.
“This group is a lot of the same kids and a lot of kids that I’ve coached for a long time, and they’ve worked hard,” Schouten said. “They’ve fought through so much stuff through Little League and Babe Ruth, and to win two in a row is awesome.”
With the state title in tow, South Tahoe advances to the Pacific Southwest Region tournament for the second straight year. Last year they went winless in two games. Regionals begin Saturday, July 23, in Santa Maria, California.
“We just have to play smart, play as hard as we can, do the best we can — and have fun,” Wattanachinda said.