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Teen-agers give Tahoe Emeralds a huge lift

Steve Yingling

If the Tahoe Emeralds become much younger they should file for Babe Ruth status.

Two South Lake Tahoe Babe Ruth All-Stars contributed to the Emeralds’ 6-3 victory over the Sacramento Sultans last Sunday. With injuries to regulars Aaron Wicklund and Mike Griffis, Emeralds manager Gary Shidaker didn’t hesitate in plugging in 15-year-old left fielder Bobby Lee and 14-year-old shortstop Chris Hannum.

Lee actually drove in the deciding run against the Sultans as his RBI single gave the Emeralds a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.

“It’s one of those things where I told them to show up because I didn’t have too many guys, and sure enough, things happened to put them in the starting lineup,” Shidaker said. “I didn’t bring them out there to hide them. I threw them into the fire to see what they could do, and they have produced.

“Chris has done the job defensively and it’s too bad in his few at-bats that he’s had to face a left-hander. Bobby Lee rose to the occasion and drove in two or three runs.”

Hannum flawlessly handled five ground balls at shortstop in four innings in support of South Tahoe High graduate Matt Tillson, who pitched six solid innings. K.J. Cameron closed out the final three innings.

Wicklund and Griffis were both injured in the Emeralds’ 25-3 setback to the Nevada Yankees on July 24 in Gardnerville. Wicklund, a Whittell High graduate who has signed on to play for Centenary College, bruised his kidney, spleen and ribs during a baserunning collision.

To top off the string of bad luck, Griffis dislocated a shoulder an inning later.

Meanwhile, the Emeralds continued to dominate the Casey Stengel League in Reno, beating the Montreux Sox 9-3 on Monday night and the Glass Turtle Mavericks 10-4 on Tuesday night.

Against the Sox, the Emeralds proved that nine players aren’t necessarily essential to win. With one player under the minimum eight starters, Shidaker was forced to plug in assistant coach Mike Stucker, who apparently hadn’t played since high school.

Stucker contributed an RBI groundout and a sacrifice bunt while committing two errors at second base.

Dustin Bria and Dan McCauley did admirable jobs of covering the outfield minus a player. Jimmie Woods rapped four hits and stole two bases for the Emeralds while Bria, McCauley and Bret Pagni connected for two hits.

Shidaker pitched a complete-game 10-hitter, surrendering one earned run.

On Tuesday, pitcher Michael Traum gave up only one run in four innings work to pick up his third victory. Woods cracked a three-run homer in the sixth inning to secure the win.

A streaking McCauley had three hits, as did Brian Tolotti.

The Emeralds, 11-0, own a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Port of Sub Eagles. Tahoe has one Stengal game remaining before closing out the season with a double-elimination tournament starting Aug. 14.

The Emeralds conclude their five-game home schedule on Friday, Aug. 1 against the Nevada Yankees. Game time is 7 p.m. at Todd C. Fields. Admission is free, and all proceeds from the snack shack benefit the South Tahoe Babe Ruth League program.

“We’ve been on a roller-coaster, but we’ve won three in a row. Beating the Yankees would be a big win, but we’re still a little banged up and maybe even short of pitching, so it will be a struggle for sure,” Shidaker said.


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