Sophomore tears up Viking pitching |

Sophomore tears up Viking pitching

Steve Yingling
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune South Tahoe High catcher A.J. Russo stretches for a force out against Fallon on Tuesday at Todd Fields. Russo played his final game for the Vikings, stroking a double in the first inning.

Only Rick Cornu’s Fallon teammates were successful at cooling him off on Tuesday afternoon at Todd Fields.

The Fallon sophomore outfielder belted a grand slam, solo homer and a single as the Greenwave clobbered South Tahoe 12-2 in a nonleague baseball game shortened to five innings because of the mercy rule.

Afterward, a shirtless Cornu was looking for a dry shirt after his teammates doused him with water.

“It felt good to hit the ball because I’ve been in a slump for a while,” said Cornu, who also gunned down Bryan Engler at the plate in the fourth inning to keep the 10-run lead intact. “My dad changed my stance up, plus my coaches helped me out and my teammates encouraged me on.”

Not a bad day’s work for someone who came into the game with one homer and was hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time.

In the second inning, Cornu battled STHS lefthander Peter Maes to a full count before blasting a homer onto the BMX track beyond the left-field fence.

The homer triggered five straight hits and seven consecutive baserunners. When the damage was done, the Greenwave led 5-0.

South Tahoe got a run back in its half of the second on a Craig Spencer double and Maes’ double-play ground ball.

However, Fallon kept the pressure on Maes in the third. With Maes laboring to locate his off-speed pitches, the Greenwave patiently coaxed three straight walks.

A walk to Cat Baker scored Jeff Champneys and Maes hit J.P. Tye to score Cullen Bryant and pad the Greenwave’s lead to 7-1.

Cornu, who was intentionally walked for the first time in his career in his previous at-bat, launched a grand slam to left, finishing Maes with the score 11-1.

“We have definitely been beaten by guys that were a lot less pitchers than he was. We just came up with a good approach today, trying to drive the ball up the middle,” said Greenwave skipper Brooke Hill.

Hard-throwing right-hander Chad Fiske pitched the distance to earn the win, allowing six hits and two earned runs. He struck out six and walked two and benefited from three double plays.

“That was one of his better outings of the year,” Hill said. “He has a good breaking ball and he just wasn’t using it enough. We went more to it and he had better command of it as the game wore on.”

South Tahoe, which finished its season at 3-19, had several chances to extend the game. But the Vikings left two runners on in the third inning and the sacks full in the fourth. Fiske set the Vikings down in order in the fifth.

Engler did his part to keep his high school career going in the top of the fifth. With Baker on third and Cornu on first, Engler ranged to his left to gather in Chester Slonecker’s grounder in the hole, then jab-stepped for the force at second before pegging the ball to first to complete the double play.

“That made me happy,” Engler said. “We always want to win but as long as you do everything you can to try.”

Reliever Shawn McLaughlin also did his best to help the Vikings avoid the 10-run rule. He allowed one run in 21Ú3 innings.

South Tahoe won the junior varsity game 12-6 behind the pitching of Jake Cain and Buck Pershing and Billy Heath’s grand slam.

Heath’s fifth-inning grand slam put South Tahoe ahead 10-6 and reliever Buck Pershing took it from there, keeping Fallon off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Cain threw five innings to get the win.

“We’re playing good team baseball,” said STHS skipper Glenn Russell. “We’re throwing strikes and we’re making plays they are giving us. We are really hitting the ball, too.”

Four Vikings collected two hits, including David Schue, Jason Anthenian, Chris Diana and Jamie Moore.

South Tahoe plays at Hug on Thursday and then hosts the Hawks in a season-ending doubleheader on Saturday.

Viking notes: Engler plans to play junior college ball in Northern or Southern California … meanwhile, senior catcher A.J. Russo won’t honor his verbal commitment to Feather River. Instead, Russo plans to join Whittell alum Tyson Frederick at Yuba College.

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