South Tahoe downs South Reno 10-0, advances to Babe Ruth state championship
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — After a second straight dominant performance, the Babe Ruth 13-15 State All-Star championship is now South Tahoe’s to lose. The tournament hosts beat South Reno 10-0 in five innings in the winner’s bracket semifinals Saturday at Todd Fields Park, advancing to championship with back-to-back 10-run shutouts.
“Going into tomorrow, we feel pretty good about it,” South Tahoe second baseman Alex Aguirre said.
South Tahoe (3-0) will play for the state championship Sunday at noon, needing only one win to capture the crown. South Reno (1-1) will meet either Sparks or Fallon Saturday night to determine the other finalist — whoever South Tahoe meets will need a pair of victories to win the title.
“It’s ours to lose, but you have to go out and win it,” South Tahoe manager Ryan Schouten said. “We’re going to go out and have the same game plan we’ve had.
“It’s our turn.”
In its second trip through the lineup Saturday, South Tahoe broke open a close contest with back-to-back big innings. The hosts had a 1-0 advantage headed into the third, and scored eight runs combined over the next two frames to take a commanding lead.
South Tahoe batted around in both the third and fourth innings while stretching its lead to 9-0. In the bottom of the third, catcher Cameron Johnson and center fielder Tyler Wattanachinda led off with back-to-back base hits — and South Tahoe got rolling from there.
“The kids get the timing down and they feel a little bit more comfortable against the pitcher the second time through,” Schouten said. “They just went in there with confidence and executed.”
Right fielder Bryin Schouten singled with one out to score Wattanachinda and make it 3-0. Then with two outs, third baseman Chris Pfister, first baseman Alex Kasper and Aguirre delivered run-scoring hits in three straight at-bats to put South Tahoe ahead by six runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, South Tahoe put its first three batters on base to spark a three-run inning. Shortstop Kyle Dane and Kasper each produced RBI singles as part of the rally — Kasper’s single through the right side of the infield scored backup right fielder Matt Cain and made it 9-0.
“We’re doing a better job of swinging at our pitch and at the good pitches,” Schouten said. “The last two games we’ve been more aggressive earlier in the count — putting bunts down, hitting hard ground balls and hard line drives.”
After South Tahoe starting pitcher Peyton Galli retired South Reno in order in the top of the fifth, he nearly single-handedly manufactured the run that enacted the 10-run rule. After drawing a one-out walk, Galli stole second and advanced to third on a groundout from Cain — in the next at-bat, he scored on a passed ball to secure the win.
“It’s easy to coach when the kids execute, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing,” Schouten said.
Galli finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored in the win, and was stellar on the mound. The right-hander allowed a hit and a walk over five scoreless innings, finishing with six strikeouts.
“Peyton is a great pitcher — he went out and threw the ball over the plate and his defense worked behind him,” Schouten said.
South Tahoe advanced in the winner’s bracket with a 10-0 win over Fallon the night before. That victory was highlighted by a rare triple play courtesy of Aguirre, a defensive gem that came at a time when the hosts badly needed it.
“It was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen,” Schouten said. “It doesn’t get any better than that — it was pretty awesome.”
Ahead 2-0 in the third, South Tahoe allowed Fallon’s first two batters to reach base. With runners on first and second, the visitors were threatening — until they hit a line drive Aguirre’s way.
“It was just a reaction,” Aguirre said. “I reacted to where the ball was hit and what runners were on.”
South Tahoe’s second baseman caught the ball for the first out, lunged with his glove to second base to double off the lead runner for the second out, then from one knee threw back to first for the third out. The 4-3 triple play ended the threat and kept momentum on the hosts’ side.
“It was pretty crazy — I thought I’d only get the dive, but then I tagged the bag and looked to first and the kid was halfway back to first,” Aguirre said. “I just threw it from my knees and got it.”
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