Renegades successful despite small window of practice time
Successful teams take months and months to come together. The South Tahoe Renegades All-Star team only needed two days.
Because the South Tahoe Little League regular season ended only four days before the district tournament began June 26, the Renegades — a new all-star team for 9- and 10-year-olds — were limited to two team practices.
However, the Renegades still managed to win two of four games and finish fifth out of 12 teams in the week-long tournament at Swope Little League Complex in Reno.
In their tournament opener against Reno Continental, South Tahoe’s band of 9- and 10-year-old Renegades were led by pitcher Ricky Braun. Braun went the six-inning distance, allowing four earned runs and striking out seven in an 11-7 defeat.
Despite falling behind 9-0 after two innings because of four fielding mistakes, the Renegades came back behind three hits off the bat of Conner Gallego; Tim Stone’s two walks and hit by pitch; and singles by Braun, Mitch Dugan, T.J. Kolesnik, Zach Williams, Will Olney and Brett Hartley.
But Reno added two more runs to complete the four-run victory.
In Game two on June 29, the Renegades received clutch hitting and a complete-game pitching gem by Jordan Morgan to defeat Carson Valley 4-3.
Morgan surrendered four hits while striking out nine. His eight walks and several wild pitches and passed balls led to Carson Valley scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the second.
However, South Tahoe answered with a run by Gallego in the second frame and another run in the third when James Yelles drove in Morgan.
The score remained 3-2 going into the top of the sixth inning.
Lead-off hits by Yelles and Gallego led to timely RBIs by Dugan and Hartley.
With South Tahoe in front for the first time, 4-3, Carson Valley didn’t go down quietly in its last at-bat. Morgan walked the first batter and after retiring the next two batters on a fielder’s choice and popup, he walked the bases loaded.
“He just wanted to make things more exciting,” said Scott Morgan, Jordan’s father and a Renegades’ coach.
With the sacks full, Morgan forced the final hitter to hit a weak grounder to first base for the unassisted out.
The team’s third game against Reno American was played in oven-like conditions June 30, with the first pitch thrown in the heat of the day at 2 p.m.
South Tahoe’s early game hitting was as hot as the temperature. The Renegades scored six runs in the first inning on three walks; RBI hits by Dugan, Olney and Garrett Tinlin; and a three-run homer by Braun.
Gallego started on the mound for South Tahoe, allowing one run during a strong two-inning stint. Then the 110-degree heat started to take its toll on the pitchers.
“We just wilted in the stifling heat. No one had the strength to get it over the plate consistently,” said Renegades manager Andy Braun. “We just pitched by committee.”
In the third through fifth innings, 14 walks led to nine Reno American runs. With Olney, Hartley and Yelles chucking their all, South Tahoe remained in the hunt by continuing to deliver hit after hit. The Renegades scored in every inning, adding three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth when the score became close.
With South Tahoe leading 14-10 in the bottom of sixth, Ricky Braun came on to close out the win. Reno was set down 1-2-3, with the final batter striking out.
South Tahoe’s sizzling hitting numbers included Gallego with three hits and three RBIs; Dugan with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored; Olney with three hits, two RBIs and one run; Hartley with two hits and a run; Kolesnik with three hits, a walk and two runs; and Ricky Braun with a home run, two walks, three RBIs and three runs.
With no rest after falling into the loser’s bracket, South Tahoe was forced to play its third game in three days on Monday.
South Tahoe scored first when Dugan knocked in Yelles, but the well-drilled Washoe team fielded three line drives to third and two to short to prevent the Renegades from scoring again.
Washoe went on to an 8-1 victory.
“The 4 1/2 hours in the 110-degree heat from the day before took its toll both physically and emotionally,” said South Tahoe coach Steve Kolesnik.
Jordan Morgan went the distance for the second time during the tournament, yielding only four hits and fanning six.
Leading the Renegades at the plate was Ricky Braun, who tripled and singled, as the winners were outhit 6-4.
“This was a great experience for the Tahoe Renegades,” Andy Braun said. “They tied for fifth place out of 12 teams. They overcame a short practice period, three-hour roundtrips to Reno and played three days in a row in steambath-type heat.
“Some of these teams, as pointed out by (Hooligans All-Star manager) Don Amaral, are polished from weeks of practice and playing numerous games together.”
With a little more time together, who knows what the Renegades would have accomplished.
“No matter the adversity, we never gave up and every player contributed with a full effort,” Braun said. “Jordan Morgan outpitched his counterpart in both games and we outhit our opponents in all four games.
“In fact, two opposing managers told me we were the best hitting team they saw in the tournament.”
Tournament stats revealed that Gallego collected nine hits in 14 at-bats and four RBIs and four runs. Also, Hartley was 4 for 7 with two runs scored; Olney was 3 for 9 with two RBIs; Dugan was 5 for 13 with five RBIs; Williams went 3 for 7; Yelles was 4 for 14 with four runs; T.J. Kolesnik reached base seven of 12 times and scored three runs; and Ricky Braun reached base safely seven times in 13 at-bats and crossed the plate five times.