Stars win Fourth of July woody |

Stars win Fourth of July woody

Darin Olde, Tribune Sports Writer
Dan Thrift/Tahoe TribuneBubble-blowing Noah Matteucci of the South Tahoe Stars tags out Sierra Tahoe Loggers baserunner Chris Smith at second base during the South Tahoe Senior Babe Ruth Fourth of July Invitational on Sunday at Todd Fields.

Maybe the Tahoe Stars should use wooden bats all the time.

For the first time in 16 years, the a local team went undefeated in the Senior Babe Ruth Fourth of July Invitational at Todd Fields, and they did it the old fashioned way: with wooden bats, nine batters in the order, and nine innings of play in each game.

The Stars came in first, going 3-0 over the weekend: They beat Belmont 2-1 on Friday; Daly City 13-12 on Saturday; and then the Sierra Tahoe Loggers — a team largely composed from Whittell High School — 12-1 in seven innings Sunday.

“It’s a whole different game,” said tournament MVP A.J. Russo, who led the Stars offensively during the weekend, going 7 for 13 with a triple and two doubles. “I’ve been swinging with wooden bats since I was 13 . You have to hit it in the right place at the right time.”

Along with the wooden bats, which don’t have the same oomph as aluminum, the longer games also changed the dynamics.

Peter Maes pitched the last three innings in the Stars’ one-run victories against both of the Bay Area teams on Friday and Saturday.

He was in the final running for tournament MVP when Russo stole the wind with a double in the seventh inning against the Loggers.

“He threw with guts,” said Doug Russell, manager of the Stars. “Against (Belmont) he was a little bit tired, and really had that team getting on him in the ninth. We could have thrown in the towel, but he wouldn’t do it … You can’t rattle your seven-inning starter. You can’t rattle your ace.”

Belmont scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to come within one run of the Stars.

Maes was battling on the mound and in his head, where the Belmont team was launching verbal artillery to rouse their hitting rally.

He made the last out by strikeout.

Allan McDermott pitched the first six innings against Daly City, holding them scoreless. Maes allowed one run but scored the winning run on a wild pitch.

In their final tournament victory, Kevin Woodman pitched the whole game against the Loggers on Sunday, allowing only four hits and one run. He made three strikeouts.

“I felt good,” he said. “I’m kind of sore.”

Belmont came in runner-up, going 2-1. Despite the smoke still rising from the Gondola Fire on Kingsbury Grade, the Belmont team brought their own smoke to beat the South Tahoe Loggers 14-0 on Friday. It was the only shutout of the tournament.

Belmont lost to the Stars on Saturday but came back to beat Daly City 10-7 on Sunday.

No one hit a home run all weekend.

“This isn’t Earl Weaver kind of play,” said tournament director Gary Shidaker, referring to the former Baltimore Orioles’ manager. “You can’t get two on and bang one home.”

This is the kind of baseball that favors managers like Russell, Shidaker added.

In other words, this is the kind of baseball that favors strategic play.

The Stars made four errors and left seven runners on base against the Loggers, compared with the Loggers’ six errors and nine runners left on base.

“We’re rusty,” said Don Amaral, manager of the new, fall-season baseball team. “In high school ball you shouldn’t drop fly balls, but we ran into good pitching.”

Especially in the Belmont game, when the Loggers were shut out for the only time in the tournament.

“We couldn’t get key hits (against Daly City),” in which the Loggers lost 11-8, “but I have a good group of kids and we’re going to get better,” he said.

— Darin Olde can be reached at or (530) 542-8008.

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