Vikings baseball off to hot start, sweeps North Valleys
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Strong pitching, spectacular defense and heads up baserunning combined with production up and down the lineup has helped the South Tahoe baseball team start the season hot.
The Vikings smoked North Valleys in a three-game series Friday and Saturday, March 15-16, in Reno and have won five of six games to open the year.
South Tahoe scored 12 runs in the sixth and seventh innings Friday to break open a tie game and win 15-3.
Auston Burdick started on the mound and battled through two-plus innings before sophomore Eric Vassar relieved with 4 ⅔ scoreless innings with six strikeouts to earn the victory.
“Auston didn’t have his best stuff, but fought through some adversity to help the team,” said South Tahoe head coach Starbuck Teevan. “Eric came in relief and effectively shut down the Panthers offense with his fastball. And defensively we played very well.”
On offense, Connor Long was dialed in and hit the ball hard in all four of his at-bats. He singled four times, drove in three runs and scored three times.
Jaden Aquino was 4 for 4 with three RBI’s and Cameron Lehmann, Cameron Johnson, Andrew Lehmann each had two hits.
Andrew Lehmann smacked the “clutch” two-run single in the five-run sixth inning that broke open the game.
“We scored most of our runs in the sixth and seventh innings with aggressive baserunning, timely hits, and great team energy,” Teevan said.
The Vikings made quick work of the Panthers Saturday morning in Game 1 of the doubleheader, winning 15-1 in five innings.
South Tahoe hurler Travis Lee pounded the zone with all three of his pitches and was backed by two outstanding defensive gems.
Lee tossed a complete game and allowed an earned run on four hits while striking out seven.
At one point, he threw 24 consecutive strikes and his strike throwing percentage was 80 at game’s end.
Cameron Lehmann, in center field, first flashed fancy glovework by diving and robbing a hit.
Second baseman Andrew Lehmann then brought everybody to their feet when he dove up the middle to snare a grounder and not only take away a hit, but to start a double play completed by shortstop Kevin Lehmann.
“It was one of the best plays we’ve seen in a long time,” Teevan said. “The North Valleys coaches gave him a nice complement.”
The entire lineup was productive but Long again led the charge by going 3 for 4 with two doubles and five RBIs.
Also for South Tahoe (5-1 3A Northern League) Kevin Lehmann was 2 for 4 with a double, three runs scored and three RBIs, Cameron Johnson was 2 for 2 with a double and four runs scored, a walk, and was hit by a pitch, Andrew Lehmann was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Aquino singled and drove in two and Vassar doubled and drove in two.
The Vikings finished off the sweep with a 9-2 victory in the nightcap.
Kevin Lehmann tossed a complete game allowing just one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out three. He has earned victories in each of his starts this season.
“Kevin made quality pitches when he had to getting out of a couple of pressure situations,” Teevan said. “Defensively, we made a couple of errors behind him, but he didn’t let that affect his determination on the mound.”
Cameron Lehmann, Vasser, Long and Andrew Lehmann all had two hits with Vassar adding a double. Vasser and Cameron Johnson both had two RBIs. Aquino and Andrew Lehmann both added single RBIs.
Cameron Lehmann also stole three bases and scored on an aggressive heads-up play.
He took advantage of a catcher who wasn’t paying attention to him at third base and stole home.
“It was a very aggressive play and with the pressure North Valleys wasn’t able to make a play,” Teevan said.
The Vikings hope to continue to play well when they travel to defending league champion Elko for three games on Friday and Saturday, March 22-23.
“It’s nice to get production up and down the line up,” Teevan said. “We don’t want to rely on any specific individual on any given day. We’re hoping to get consistent production one through nine on a regular basis. Our pitchers are currently throwing a ton of strikes and defensively we’re playing well. We’re getting good defensive play from Cameron Johnson behind the plate as he works hard each game handling the pitching staff and blocking balls. Our Series in Elko will be a good test for us going forward. They’ve set the bar in our league the last several years and we look forward to the challenge.”