South Tahoe 15 All-Stars armed
When the temperature dropped in Gardnerville last weekend, the 15-year-old Babe Ruth All Stars turned up the heat, giving manager Mark Shehadi the landscape on which to paint a winning team portrait.
After going 0-3, South Tahoe found its groove at the plate to defeat Vacaville 11-5 and Carson — who it lost to initially — 15-7 on Sunday.
They hope to keep their cool, two-game winning streak alive this weekend as the host of the All-Star tournament at Todd Fields.
“I think it’s huge,” Shehadi said about home-field advantage. “I think it means everything. When we went to Gardnerville and our kids were hot and tired, it was a whole different attitude being in 90-degree heat. The last three practices up here at nighttime have been a complete turnaround of effort and enthusiasm.
“We play better on our own field,” he added. “We know the bounce and we’re going to get the Tahoe roll, baby.”
The All-Stars, however, won’t escape the heat, even in the Tahoe Basin.
Record temperatures Monday at Daggett Summit were followed by the highest-ever recorded temperature in Reno at 107 degrees on Wednesday.
At more than 6,000 feet above sea level, Todd Fields won’t offer much solar protection. But with a bye on Friday and their first game Saturday against North Tahoe at 7 p.m., South Tahoe will be in better shape than Reno West and South Reno, who play at 10 a.m., and High Desert vs. the winner of Sparks/North Valley, who will play at 1 p.m., the hottest time in the day.
Shehadi will also bring home a game plan derived from watching his newly minted All-Star team play in Gardnerville.
About all he will say before giving the starting order to North Tahoe Saturday is that Kyle Churchill will likely start on the bump.
But with Jake Cain, Mikey Van Gorden, Matt Bobman, Marcus Mellberg, Troy Radke and Chris Thorne — each star pitchers on their team during the regular season — that could easily change.
All of the All-Stars pitched during the regular season. The real question will be who is going to play in the infield, and where.
While the outfield will benefit from speed and strong arms, the infield may be where depth or inexperience clogs the gears.
But in South Tahoe’s last two games, it allowed only 12 total runs and racked up 26 or their own.
“We were able to throw strikes when we needed to throw strikes, and that is the key to winning baseball games,” Shehadi said.
Shehadi’s players are confident.
“We can beat any team if we play our game,” said Chris Thorne, who was relaxing his muscles in the hot tub Wednesday afternoon. “I think we got a good group of guys and we’re getting better and better as a team. I think we’ve got a pretty good shot.”