O’Brien beats the Indians with bat and arm
Toby O’Brien had a heck of a homecoming.
The South Tahoe senior not only delivered a two-run triple in the third inning, he pitched 5 1/3 strong inning to give the Vikings a 5-3 win over Elko in 4A baseball action Tuesday afternoon at Todd Fields.
The Vikings scored four of their five runs in the explosive third inning to win their delayed home opener.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get today,” Viking manager Doug Russell said. “But we swung the bat well and got timely hitting.”
Sophomore Brandon Tinlin and senior Jarred Uppendahl both drew walks before Mike Tillson singled home Tinlin.
Matt Connelly followed with a single and Russell put the runners in motion as O’Brien laced his three-bagger down the right-field line.
The ball skipped into foul territory, allowing O’Brien to motor all the way into third without a throw.
“We had a hit and run on so I didn’t want to leave the runners out to dry,” O’Brien said. “The pitch was away so I just went with it to right.”
O’Brien then scored on a Mike Hennessy single to push the lead to 4-1.
But in the top of the sixth, the Indians made the contest interesting as O’Brien allowed a leadoff double and a single to put two runners on with no outs.
Russell then lifted O’Brien for Uppendahl, who induced three ground balls to short to get out the inning with only two runs scoring.
“Toby gave us a gutty effort out there,” Russell said. “We always know what we’ll get with him on the mound.”
The Vikings added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning when Cory Poulen opened with a base hit and came around to score on a double by Tinlin.
In the second inning, Elko got on the scoreboard first when Luke Anderson reached on an error, stole second and came home on a Kenny Sherman triple.
After the second, O’Brien settled down, striking out three the rest of the way.
“I’m not an overpowering pitcher, I have to hit my spots and get ground balls, make my infield work for me,” O’Brien said.
The Vikings had one other scoring threat in the first inning when Tillson and Connelly reached base with no one out, but O’Brien hit a line drive at the Elko shortstop, who stepped on second and fired to first for a triple play to end the threat.
The Vikings (8-13 overall, 3-13 in league) remain at home for a Thursday matchup with the Fallon Greenwave at Todd Fields.
“We played them well last time we faced them,” Russell said. “We know we can play with them on Thursday.”
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