South Tahoe’s Babe Ruth 16 All-Stars win state
In only two games the South Tahoe Babe Ruth 16 All-Stars have learned all they need to know about themselves: they know and have what it takes to win.
After blowing an eight-run lead to Carson City on Saturday, South Tahoe rallied from a six-run deficit during the final three innings to pull out a euphoric 18-17 state championship victory.
South Tahoe also defeated Carson City 11-7 on Friday to capture the first double-elimination state tournament for 16-year-olds, which attracted only two Nevada teams to Governor’s Field in Carson City.
“After a California team won a Nevada championship I’m sure a lot more 16 teams will enter next year. This is not our fault. We just had our act together before anyone else, and Carson is no slouchy team,” said South Tahoe manager Dan Hannum.
Facing the distinct possibility of playing a second game Saturday after squandering an 11-3 lead by allowing Carson to score 14 unanswered runs, South Tahoe’s nine didn’t fold.
Instead, South Tahoe scored two runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth to pull within a run.
Hannum said the turning point came on defense.
“Ryan Cullen (second base) and Matt Connelly (shortstop) turned inning-ending double plays in the fifth and sixth innings, which really allowed us to get back in the ball game. That really perked up everybody,” Hannum said.
In the seventh inning, South Tahoe loaded the bases on an error and base hits by Connelly and Anthony Miranda.
“I figured we had a good shot with two of our better hitters coming up in Matt Olsen and TJ Prevost, and they both struck out,” Hannum said.
On the contrary, the game-winning hit came from one of Hannum’s struggling players Ryan Hickey. Hickey fell behind 0-2 in the count but choked up on the bat and the squeezed the life out of Carson with a game-winning two-run single over the second baseman’s head.
The win propelled South Tahoe into next week’s double-elimination mini-regionals at Moana Stadium in Reno. Carson and Utah will also participate.
Miranda and Chris Hannum, who picked up the win with three solid innings of relief after saving the previous victory by striking out the side in the seventh inning, led Tahoe with three hits. Mike Hennessy, Connelly and Olsen each contributed two hits. Anthony Cooley hit a double for South Tahoe and caused Carson trouble with his speed.
“Through the whole tournament his speed caused havoc … a lot of throwing errors,” Hannum said.
Friday night’s game was just as ebbing and flowing. South Tahoe went ahead 5-2, only to have Carson rebound for a 6-5 edge. Tied at 7 in the seventh inning, Ryan Schue and Cooley walked and Ryan Cullen singled to load the bases. Schue scored the go-ahead run on an error and Hennessy’s two-run single put away Carson.
Cullen’s four hits led a 13-hit attack, while Hennessy, Chris Hannum and Prevost collected two hits. Cooley scored four times.
South Tahoe will practice four or five days this week in preparation for regionals.
“It would be kind of neat playing a team from out of the state and exciting to play at a big stadium … none of the guys have played on a big field like that,” said Hannum, who is assisted by Don Lee and Matt Tillson. “We haven’t had a Tahoe team in this position for years.”
South Tahoe opens the four-day regionals against Carson at 7 p.m. Aug 2.
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