A dominant pitching performance and clutch hitting saved the season and preserved the quest of defending the state title.
After being rocked two days before, senior Kendall Johnson pitched a complete-game shutout as the Greenwave baseball team ended Fernley’s season, 2-0, Saturday in the Northern Division I-A regional tournament in Spring Creek and will return to the state tournament to defend its title.
“Our goal from Day 1 was to get back to state,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said. “We felt relief of the pressure (after the Fernley win). We started to be more relax and played our game.”
Fallon, which lost to Elko in the championship game, 7-6, on a walk-off, is the No. 2 seed and faces No. 1 Boulder City from the South on Thursday at 1 p.m. at Galena High School. Elko, the No. 1 seed, takes on No. 2 Sierra Vista at 4 p.m. Friday’s games will be played at Galena while the championship is Saturday at 9 a.m. at Bishop Manogue.
The team’s experience from the previous postseason’s played a factor in the regional tournament and de Braga looks forward to it contributing in the state tournament.
“That played a big part of it,” de Braga said about the experience last weekend. “Experience will come into play. We controlled our emotions and played the game how it’s supposed to be played.”
Johnson was nearly invincible against the Vaqueros, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 Spring Creek. After No. 4 Fallon forced a winner-take-all game on Friday against Fernley, the Greenwave’s experience and leadership paid off. And it started with Johnson.
“Kendall pitched great,” de Braga said. “We’ve seen him have these types of outings. He really had it in him and we’re looking forward to him carrying that on.”
The senior hurler struck out four and gave up five hits over seven innings, and threw 64 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Brock Uptain’s RBI single in the second inning was good enough for Fallon as Marshall Coverston’s single in the fifth gave Fallon its second and final run of the game.
Fallon nearly knocked off Elko for the second year in a row in the regional championship. Elko, the No. 3 seed, upset Spring Creek twice to punch its ticket to the state tournament.
Down by three in the final inning, Jack Swisher smashed a three-run homer to right field to tie the game at 6 and breathe new life into the Greenwave. Elko’s Nick Smiley, though, ended the drama with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.
Fallon led briefly in the game when Trae Workman scored on Swisher’s double to right in the first inning followed by Sean McCormick’s RBI single in the second to give Fallon a 2-0 lead. Elko scored four times in the second thanks to a pair of walks, an error and two sac flies. None of the runs came on a hit.
Coverston scored on an error in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to one (4-3) but Elko came back with a pair in the fifth.
Calvin Greenwell started the game, going just an inning and allowed four runs, but Clay Davison, who pitched 5 1/3 innings, took the loss.
Fallon 5, Dayton 4
Swisher’s bat began the tournament on a hot streak as he drove in three runs in the Greenwave’s opening win over Dayton on Thursday. Swisher singled in a run in the first and tripled in two in the next inning as Fallon held on for the one-run win.
“We stayed in control and put the pressure on them,” de Braga said. “(Dayton’s) a great team and they came to play.”
Branden Beeghly started the game, going four innings and striking out four, while reliever Michael Porras closed the door, throwing three innings and striking out two to pick up the win.
Spring Creek 10, Fallon 8
It was a little too late for the Greenwave against the top seed on Thursday.
The Spartans jumped out to a 10-3 lead after scoring six in the first three frames. A five-run seventh inning by the Greenwave, though, put the hosts on their heels.
Coverston doubled to lead off the final inning and then scored on Alex Mendez’s double. Cameron Beyer drew a bases-loaded walk to score Beeghly and Alex Mendez scored on Kyle Larsen’s walk. Workman’s single brought in Beyer and pinch-hitter Colton Coverston. Marshall Coverston grounded out to end the game.
Johnson took the loss after allowing six runs (four earned) in 2 1/3 innings while Greenwell pitched the remainder of the game.
Fallon 10, South Tahoe 3
Needing to hold off elimination, Fallon went on a 10-run unanswered streak to knock off the No. 6 Vikings to begin Friday’s action.
Workman came a homer shy of the cycle after tripling in the first, doubling a run in the second and singling in the fourth. He flew out to deep center in the fifth to fall short of the cycle.
Marshall Coverston singled and scored twice, while McCormick singled and scored three times. Swisher doubled twice and singled once to drive in four runs on the day.
Hayden Strasdin picked up the win, going six innings and striking out five.
Fallon 11, Fernley 3
Fallon never trailed against its rival in the nightcap on Friday after Swisher, Uptain and Workman each drove in runs to give Fallon a 3-0 lead after two innings.
The Greenwave backed up starter Mendez with three in the fifth after Swisher’s double and Beyer’s triple as the team opened up the scoring rampage. Workman’s double to center scored two runs in the sixth inning and Colton Coverston and Uptain each drove in a run in the seventh.
Mendez went the distance, striking out seven and walking none despite scattering 10 hits.
“Pitching has been one of our strengths,” de Braga said.