FERNLEY — Fallon is streaking at the right time like it did back in 2011 when it won the state championship.
After going 2-4 in two crossovers last month and then journeying over the pass for a spring-break tournament in Sacramento, the Greenwave baseball team swept Fernley in Saturday’s doubleheader. The streak is up to 12 games after Tuesday’s 7-6 win over Division III power Yerington.
Fallon (8-4) relied on another strong performance from Tristen Salazar to take the first game against Fernley, 8-1, before needing a big comeback in the second game. Down four runs, the Greenwave came back with a big inning and held on in the final frame to win, 10-9, and send their cross-county rivals spiraling as the Vaqueros travel to last-place Dayton (1-8) this week to conclude the season. Fallon’s doubleheader sweep also concluded the first series sweep against Fernley since the realignment three years ago.
“They’re executing the game plan,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said about his team’s winning formula this month. “We stress in practice about hitting with runners on base. We have to execute that type of style to be very effective.”
Fallon, which has not lost a game this month, is locked into hosting a three-game play-in series for the regional tournament as the Greenwave hold the No. 3 spot in the Division I-A standings. Elko swept Lowry in a three-game set over the weekend to remain perfect at 9-0 as the Indians host Spring Creek (2-7) this weekend. Lowry (8-4), though, finishes the season in second as it defeated Fallon in the crossover while Fernley (4-5) is battling with Truckee (4-4), South Tahoe (5-6) and Sparks (3-6) for the fourth and final seed to host the play-in series. The top eight teams qualify for the play-in series round with the four series winners advancing to the regional tournament in two weeks.
The Division I-A finale, though, couldn’t be more drama-filled as Fallon prepares for next week’s playoff series.
The Greenwave took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning but it didn’t last long.
Dalton Frank walked and scored on Dalton Johnson’s single. Johnson later scored on Cody Long’s single.
Fernley scored five times off Fallon starter Long in the first inning, which was aided by five singles. The Vaqueros’ scoring rampage didn’t stop in the second inning as the first two batters scored on a wild pitch and error to give Fernley a 7-3 lead.
“Obviously, we were not ready to play ball. To be a champion team, you can’t drop your guard,” de Braga said about Fallon getting behind early. “The kids get more up for (Fernley). It’s good to beat them.”
Errors didn’t help, either.
“Cody’s the type of kid who’s going to create runners on base,” de Braga added. “We have to clean up the defense behind him.”
The see-saw tipped in Fallon’s favor during the fifth inning as the Greenwave scored six runs.
Johnson was hit to lead off the inning before Long and Salazar each singled. Nic Stenberg reached on a fielder’s choice before Tyler Bagby walked and Dylan Tedford singled. Frank and Clay Amezquita each singled in runs to cap off Fallon’s six-run effort. Fallon added another in the sixth when Stenberg scored on a groundout.
“They lacked emotion but they didn’t lack the confidence that they could come back,” de Braga said about the rally. “Some of the kids on the bench picked each other up and kept it going.”
Fernley cut Fallon’s three-run lead in the sixth inning down to two after opening with a double and back-to-back singles. The tying run came aboard when the first batter singled against Hunter Mori. The southpaw senior, though, induced a game-ending double play to sweep Fernley.
Salazar was dealing in the first game to cement his spot as de Braga’s top starter for the playoffs.
“He’s been a kid who’s competitive. He wants the ball,” de Braga said of Salazar. “He’s a competitor. Nothing’s going to bother him. Between him and Nic (Stenberg), Tristan’s going to be the ace.”
The junior right-hander struck out five and walked two and retired eight-straight batters early in the game. Salazar didn’t need much support from the offense but Fallon scored three in the second when Mo Coverston singled in Sage Orozco and Johnson followed with a two-run single Salazar also scored in the third inning before Bagby scored on an error in the fifth. Joe Pyle and Bagby each scored in the seventh.