STATE CHAMPIONS: South Tahoe beats South Reno, delivers Babe Ruth All-Star title
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The local boys of summer are now tops in Nevada. South Tahoe beat South Reno 5-1 on Sunday afternoon at Todd Fields Park to win the Babe Ruth 13-15 State All-Star championship, the first for a local team in more than two decades.
“The kids worked so hard to get ready, and I felt like we won every stage of the tournament,” South Tahoe manager Ryan Schouten said. “We hustled on and off more than every other team, we wanted it more than every team, we threw more strikes and we played better defense.
“They deserve it.”
In Sunday’s championship, South Tahoe completed an undefeated tournament run with a gritty victory. The local all-star contingent built a steady lead and rode a stellar performance from starting pitcher Chris Pfister to the state title.
“It was execution like we did all tournament — the pitchers threw strikes, we ran the bases hard and we played our style of game,” Schouten said. “We did just enough to win.”
South Tahoe opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the second to chase South Reno starter Dakota Ford. In the next inning, the team added to its lead with a two-out rally.
“We hadn’t seen either one of the pitchers that they threw — when their first guy started to struggle, our kids were very patient at the plate,” Schouten said. “We got him out of the game and got a relief guy in — that was big.”
With the bases empty and two outs in the top of the third, third baseman Kyle Dane singled then stole second and third to get into scoring position. Pfister fell behind 0-2 with Dane on third, but eventually doubled to center field on the seventh pitch he faced to put South Tahoe ahead by three.
“I was just trying to get a base hit and score the run — I got a hold of it,” Pfister said.
South Reno put its leadoff batter aboard for the second straight inning in the bottom of the third, but for the third consecutive frame their time on the base paths was short-lived. Catcher Peyton Galli fired a strike in the next at-bat to thwart a stolen base attempt, one of five times South Tahoe caught its opponent stealing during the contest.
In the bottom of the fourth, South Reno produced a leadoff single that ultimately led to the its only run of the contest. A one-out RBI double from left fielder Eric Ruiz made it 3-1 — Pfister got the next two batters out to end the threat and keep South Tahoe ahead.
“It was just throwing strikes, pitching to contact and hopefully getting a few strikeouts — I had my team behind me,” Pfister said. “I’m used to having them behind me, so I knew what to expect.”
South Tahoe extended its lead to 4-1 in the next half-inning when second baseman Alex Aguirre capitalized on South Reno playing its infield in. Aguirre smacked a two-out single through the right side of the infield to score pinch runner Devin Chartraw from third.
“When you have a kid like Pfister on the mound just dealing, sometimes one or two runs is enough — today we scratched out five,” Schouten said. “We had runners on all day, and we just couldn’t seem to knock them in when it mattered.”
After a second straight scoreless frame from Pfister, South Tahoe added one more run in the top of seventh on an RBI sacrifice fly from first baseman Alex Kasper. In the bottom of the seventh, Pfister sat South Reno down in order to end the game — after Kasper hauled in a pop fly for the final out, the team celebrated with a mob inside the third-base line.
“It has been a good road with fun baseball with this team — I love all of them,” Pfister said.
Pfister earned the team’s only game ball of the tournament with an 81-pitch complete game in the win, allowing a run on three hits and scattering one hit over the last three frames. The right-hander struck out nine and walked none for his second win in four days — in two tournament appearances, he allowed two earned runs in 12.1 innings.
“We rode him all day — he’s a stud,” Schouten said.
Dane collected a team-high three hits in Sunday’s win, finishing 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Pfister helped out his own cause with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, and Aguirre went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
After holding on to beat Sparks 6-5 in the tournament opener Thursday night, South Tahoe rolled to 10-0 wins over Fallon and South Reno in consecutive days to advance to the championship. On Sunday, the hosts downed South Reno for the second time in a 24-hour span.
“They knew what we had and knew our weaknesses, so it was a bit harder,” Pfister said.
South Tahoe’s All-Stars team is made up of 14 players between the ages of 13 and 15. For the team’s 14 year olds, the state championship came following a recent string of close calls on the biggest stage.
“I’ve known all of them since I was little, so it’s cool to be here with all of them and know that they’re here with me,” Pfister said.
The Babe Ruth state championship is South Tahoe’s first since the early 1990s, a team that included current STHS varsity head coach Starbuck Teevan. South Tahoe set out to end the drought at the start of this year’s tournament, and did so with four wins in four days.
“After we won the first couple games, the confidence came up,” Schouten said. “We have a lot of hitting that we left in the dugout, so to still win it is a testament to how hard the kids are working.”
South Tahoe moves on to the Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest Regional 13-15 Tournament later this month in Arizona. The tournament drawing from six states begins July 27 in Surprise, Ariz.
“It’s amazing,” Schouten said. “And it’s just the beginning for this year.”
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