It was battle between two evenly matched clubs.
In the end, the Fallon baseball team held off a pesky South Tahoe club to win the Northern Division I-A play-in series, 2-1, on Saturday at the Ed Arciniega Complex.
The two clubs split Friday’s doubleheader, as Fallon won the first game 10-7, and the Vikings rebounded to nab the second, 4-0.
On Saturday, however, Fallon’s pitching kept South Tahoe at bay for a 5-4 win. The Greenwave advances to Friday’s Northern DI-A regional tournament in Winnemucca and will play at 11:30 a.m. against No. 2 seed Lowry.
In the other matchup, top-seeded Elko faces No. 4 Truckee, who swept Fernley, at 9 a.m. The winners advance to the semifinals at 4:30 p.m., while the losers play at 2 p.m. The top two teams qualify for next week’s state tournament at the College of Southern Nevada in Henderson.
“I guess that shows the mark of a team that can get it together again and go on another winning streak,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said of the grinding win. “Hunter did his job … and with the two of them we can’t let that lead-off runner on. I’ve always said our pitching will carry us.”
Fallon, meanwhile, relied on pitchers Hunter Mori and Morgan Dirickson to hold off the Vikings. Mori allowed four runs — three unearned — walked three and struck out two in five innings.
“I focused on what I know, my mechanics … and throwing strikes,” Mori said. “I just focused on limiting their base hits and walks.”
Dirickson entered in the sixth and allowed one hit and struck out the side in the seventh to seal the win. Dirickson faced South Tahoe’s Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the final frame.
With one out and a full count to Dominic Diana, Dirickson froze Diana with a gutsy curveball, then fanned Tyler Sharp to end the game.
“I was just kind of rocking and firing and concentrating on hitting the glove,” Dirickson said.
South Tahoe tallied two runs to open the game thanks to an error by third baseman Dalton Johnson. Lead-off hitter Sergio Burgueno walked and advanced to second on a single by Christian Coats.
After a sacrifice bunt by Sharp, who threw a five-hit shutout on Friday, to move the runners to second and third, Liam Loftis lined a ground through Johnson’s legs to score two.
In the bottom half of the inning, however, the Wave rallied for three runs highlighted by an RBI double from Cody Long that scored Marshall Coverston.
Johnson and Long scored on a wild pitch by Vikings pitcher Bobby Gonzales. Fallon, though, struggled on the basepaths and ran itself out of three runs including one in the first inning when Dalton Frank ran home on a ground ball to third base.
“I think they played a little tight,” de Braga said. “Now that we’ve made it to regionals, we know the teams that will be there. We know what they got and I think we’ll be more prepapred.”
South Tahoe rebounded in the second with a run, but Fallon countered with two runs in the third when Nic Stenberg drove in one with a double to right field.
Again, baserunning prevented Fallon from adding another run when Tristen Salazar blew through a stop sign from coach Lester de Braga at third base on Stenberg’s double.
South Tahoe right fielder Jordan Mann gunned down Johnson at the plate, and Vikings catcher Christian Coats waited for Salazar, who attempted to jump over Coats but was tagged out.
Fallon’s baserunning woes struck again in the sixth when Kyle Evans ran home on a dropped third strike and was easily tagged out by Coats.
“We got to clean up our base running,” de Braga said. “We had some blunders that killed us this whole series.”
South Tahoe added a run in the fifth when Sharp blasted an RBI double to score Burgueno.
“I think we did a really good job, really competed,” South Tahoe coach Starbuck Teevan said. “All I ask for from the kids is to leave it on the field … and they did that. I’m very proud of them and I’m sorry to see the season end.”