ELKO — The Elko baseball team wanted to win the series against Fallon this weekend but did one better by pulling out the sweep.
After winning a close contest Friday in the series opener, the Indians pulled out the big sticks late in the first game Saturday to win 14-4 in six innings. The second game turned into an early rout with the Tribe taking a 10-1 lead after two innings. The mercy rule was brought into play in the bottom of the fifth.
“The kids came out and swung it really well,” Elko coach Shane Gilligan said. “In the first game, we were finding the holes and finally strung some hits together.”
The first game was a close contest and was tied at 4-all going into the bottom of the fifth. However, the wheels came off for Fallon in the bottom of the sixth as Elko put up nine runs to bring the mercy rule into affect.
“It was just one of those things,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said. “They got the bat on the ball and it fell into holes. We booted it a couple of times but give Elko credit, they hit the ball.”
The Indians drew first blood in the top of the first inning after a couple of Fallon errors. R.J. Bejarano was the recipient of the first error, and Connor Altenburg followed with a single up the middle. A couple of batters later, Chad Schumacher dropped a single into center field to bring Altenburg home.
Fallon had an answer in the second inning as Joe Pyle singled and later scored on a wild pitch. Pyle led the Greenwave with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate in the opener.
The Indians put up three runs in the second as Fallon starting pitcher Cody Long struggled to find the plate. Elko’s Cody Nielsen and Bejarano walked, Altenburg singled through the right side, and Derek Ridgway walked to force Nielsen home.
Fallon coach Lester deBraga made a pitching change and went with Alex Mendez out of the bullpen.
Benton Wickersham hit into a fielder’s choice, but Bejarano was able to score. The Tribe made it 4-1 when Ridgway and Altenburg attempted the double steal. Ridgway was able to get into a rundown long enough for Altenburg to score.
Mendez settled down and made pretty quick work of Elko in the third and fourth innings.
The Greenwave used Mendez’s hold to rally back. They got one run back in the fourth off doubles from Jack Swisher and Dalton Frank, and they tied it with two runs in the fifth. Mendez helped his own cause with an RBI single.
“We thought we had the momentum when we tied it, but then things fell apart,” deBraga said. “When you come up here, you know Elko is going to battle and battle.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth after Fallon’s catcher was called for interference with the bases loaded to score Schumacher.
The Indians finished off the Wave in the sixth. Bejarano singled, Altenburg sacrificed and reached on an error and Ridgway singled to left to score Bejarano. The inning continued thanks to a pair of Fallon errors, and singles by Schumacher, Conklin and Bejarano. With the bases loaded and two outs, Ridgway crushed a ball to the fence in right for a triple and end the game on the mercy rule.
“We played great defense, and our pitching was great from our starters to our relievers all weekend,” Gilligan said.
Kyle Whitted started Saturday’s opener and went 4 1/3 innings, and Garrison Bement came on in the top of the fifth. He went 1 2/3 scoreless innings. In the finale, Jacob Conklin took the mound and went all five innings for the win.
Offensively, Elko picked up right where it left off at the end of the first game.
“We let the ball get deep, and the kids did a good job of hitting it the other way,” Gilligan said. “The kids stayed focused, worked hard and did it as a team.”
The Tribe scored five times in each of the two innings. Ridgway smacked a two-run triple to get Elko on the board in the bottom of the first. Conklin and Garrett Schofield each had RBI singles in the innings.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Schofield smacked a triple to the fence in right to make it 10-1.
“We as coaches have to take more control,” deBraga said of the carryover from Game 1 to Game 2. “The kids didn’t seem ready for the second game, and I have to put the blame on the coaches for that. We have to be ready to battle, and we can’t hang our heads. But it’s just one series.”
While the Wave was able to pound out eight hits in the first game Saturday, they were held to just three by Conklin. Brenden Beeghy had one of those base knocks in the first inning with an RBI single up the middle. Fallon’s second run came in the fourth when Pyle tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sage Orozco.
Needing one run to enact the mercy rule once again, Conklin smacked a two-out single to left-center field to score Wickersham from second base.
Schumacher continues to reach base with regularity. He was 3-for-5 Saturday, but he reached base safely in eight of his nine plate appearances. Conklin was 4-for-8, and Ridgway was 3-for-5 with seven RBIs.
With the sweep, the Indians improve to 10-4 in Northern I-A league play and 13-5 overall. Fallon drops to 6-5 in league play.