Vikings baseball clinches league title, enjoying historic season

Luke Laub slides safely into third base Wednesday after blasting a two-run triple in the first inning. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe High School is enjoying one of its best baseball seasons in the program’s history.

And while the Vikings would love the opportunity to battle for a state championship, they’re just happy to be playing after last year was wiped out by the pandemic.

The Vikings have won 15 of their 16 games, including a 5-0 victory over North Valleys Wednesday on an “off night.”

They can hit, boy can they hit, the pitching staff throws a lot of strikes and is anchored by an ace, and they play solid defense.

“I could be upset about not being able to play for a state title but I’m not,” said Vikings head coach Starbuck Teevan. “It would be nice to give this team a shot, but we’re lucky to have the opportunity to be out here playing. We’ll take what we can get after missing last year. We’ve got a lot of talented kids and get contributions throughout the lineup. We’re young, we have one senior in Miles (Hamburg) that the team rallies around and when our offense comes alive, we’re tough to beat.”

South Tahoe head coach Starbuck Teevan gives instructions during the game. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

The game Wednesday didn’t feature the Vikings offense rolling up double digit runs like they’ve done in 11 games this season (They average about 12 runs per contest) but they got three clutch hits, two from Luke Laub, and dominant pitching from ace Andrew Lehmann.

Laub lined a one-out, two-run triple to center field in the first inning to give Lehmann all the runs he would need. Laub came back in the fifth inning and sealed the game with a two-run double over the left fielder’s head.

Garrett Friederici added a two-out RBI single in the fourth.

The victory was capped by a diving catch in left field by Caden Matthews to end the game with two runners on base.

“It was a good game, we didn’t play our best but it was good enough to get a win,” Lehmann said.

South Tahoe ace Andrew Lehmann delivers a fastball Wednesday against North Valleys. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

The righty said he didn’t pitch his best game, but was overpowering nonetheless. He hurled a complete game allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out 10. He is 4-0 this season with a microscopic earned run average of 1.05. He has struck out 37 batters in 26-plus innings.

He attributes the team’s success this year to everybody contributing and having a lot of fun playing with his teammates.

“Everyone on this team contributes, one through nine, and we’ve had solid pitching all year,” he said. “It’s been a blast this year since we have just one loss and were undefeated in league play. It’s been great this year. It’s kind of a bummer we can’t go for a state title because this is one of the best teams we’ve had in years. We just can’t do it this year. Next year we’ll all be back except for Miles which is tough because he won’t be here.”

Vikings star sophomore Joel Gomez says the long-lasting relationships the players have built over the years has helped with their chemistry.

“Most of us are pretty close friends and we’ve been together for awhile, since we were young,” said Gomez, who has put up a .520 batting average this season at the top of the lineup. “We’re just having fun and not worrying about anything. I wish we could play for a state title because I think we’d have a good chance to win it.”

The team’s top hitter Nico Wagner who is raking at a .560 clip agrees the team chemistry is built around years of playing together in Little League.

Nico Wagner smokes a triple to right center field on Wednesday against North Valleys. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

“It’s a great time playing with these guys,” the sophomore said. “We’ve been together since we were 8 years old playing travel ball. We have a great team this year, but we’ve got two more years and I know we’ll win state.”

The Vikings with the win Wednesday are Northern League champions and Teevan thinks it may be the first in the program’s history.

South Tahoe celebrates Caden Matthews’ (middle, left) diving catch to end the game on Wednesday. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Vikings do get a few extra games after the regular season in a regional tournament that will feature league teams. South Tahoe will host that tournament starting next Thursday, May 20.

The Vikings will celebrate Hamberg on Tuesday during senior day to end the regular season.

“We’ve got one senior, Miles, that we’ll celebrate on Tuesday, he’s our grinder, he gets hit by pitches and sets a good example,” Teevan said. “But mostly we’ve got a good group of kids that are still learning and are hungry.”

South Tahoe first baseman Ian Ross receives a pickoff attempt on Wednesday. Bill Rozak
Tahoe Daily Tribune

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