After South Tahoe upset the Greenwave in the first game of a Northern 3A baseball doubleheader, Fallon pitcher Alex Mendez knew he had to stop the Vikings from a sweep.
The Fallon righthander worked the corners of the plate with an assortment of four pitches in fanning 10 and allowing one run as the Wave shutout South Tahoe 5-0 Friday afternoon at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
The Wave dropped the first game, 5-4, in the seventh inning to finish the day with a 1-1 league record. The two teams meet Saturday at 11 a.m. in Fallon.
Because of 4 feet of snow on the Vikings’ field, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association moved the game to Fallon, but South Tahoe remained as the home team.
Mendes kept the Vikings off-stride, nibbling the corners with inside pitches and then following up with curves that brushed the outside.
“I started to use the whole plate and use my curveball,” Mendes said after the doubleheader. “It feels good coming back with my pitches. I wanted to keep them off-balanced.”
In two outings this season, Mendes is 1-1, losing his opener 1-0 to Damonte Ranch. With his strikeout performance against the Vikings, he has fanned 17 batters in two games.
Mendes struck out the first two batters he faced to set the tone. Although he plunked Vikings shortstop Peyton Galli, he then forced opposing pitcher Garret Harley to pop up near the screen. Mendes then retired the next 12 of 13 batters.
The only blemish to his shutout was allowing Harley a first-pitch single up the middle to begin the fourth inning.
“Since my sophomore year, this is one of my better outings,” Mendes said.
Harley threw two innings of scoreless ball before Fallon hammered the Vikings’ hurler for three runs in the third. An infield error led to two runs, and Hayden Strasdin slammed a base-loaded single to drive in another run.
Fallon added a run in the fourth on a passed ball, and another run in the seventh on an RBI from Jack Swisher.
Fallon coach Lester de Braga said Mendes had a good outing against the Vikings.
“He had some good pitches, moved the ball inside and out and changed speeds,” de Braga said. “All of his pitches worked well for him. I expect him to do this for the entire season.”
With the score tied at 4 in the Northern 3A conference opener for both teams, Tyler Wattanachinda stroked a one-out single to centerfield, and Caleb Bray’s bloop single put runners on first and second.
Galli ripped a hard single to right field to score Wattanachinda with the winning run in a 5-4 victory.
“I was trying to do my job, and that was to get on base,” Galli said. “I saw a fastball coming down and waited for my pitch.”
Galli said it was a huge win for South Tahoe, which played its first official game of the season.
Despite the loss de Braga said Strasdin threw well enough to win.
“I talked to the team this year about adversity,” said Vikings coach Starbuck Teevan. “We’re going to face it all year, especially with the traveling.”
Teevan said he was pleased with the way the Vikings came back after spotting Fallon a 1-0 lead.
South Tahoe pitcher Chris Pfister struggled in the first inning by giving a leadoff triple to Swisher, Fallon’s steady second baseman. Sean McCormick followed with an RBI.
Strasdin sailed along for the first two innings before a breakdown in the Fallon defense enabled South Tahoe to score in the bottom of the third. De Braga said Strasdin threw well enough to win but needed more support.
Cameron Johnson led off the inning with a single. After the Vikings placed runners at second and third, Kevin Lehman swung at a third strike, but the ball bounced in the dirt for a wild pitch. Lehman sprinted to first while Johnson scored to tie the game.
Galli then doubled in the gap for his first RBI to give South Tahoe a 2-1 lead. The big hit occurred when Pfister’s single dropped into no man’s land, scoring two more runs for a 4-1 lead.
Pfister pitched well for three innings, but he ran into trouble in the sixth but wiggled out of a jam by allowing only one run, a single from Edgar Alvarado. But in the top of the seventh with two outs, Fallon tied the game on Swisher’s two-run single.
“They came back to tie it,” Teevan said of Fallon. “They always play tough.”
Pfister allowed six hits, struck out four and walked one.
The Greenwave dominated its third and final game Saturday against South Tahoe, 21-2, in five innings.
Fallon won the series by capturing two of three Northern 3A games.
Fallon scored consistently throughout the game, scoring several runs each inning and quickly keeping the Vikings off the bases.
In the third inning, the Vikings’ Caleb Caramazza scored the team’s first run, leaving Fallon out in front 14-1. Their second run was made in the fifth inning by Kevin Lehmann.
Brenden Larsen was the pitcher of record, taking the mound for 3.25 innings in facing 16 batters. Brandon Rau took over in the fourth inning and pitched through the end of the game by facing eight batters.
Jack Swisher was a leader for the Greenwave; while he only had two runs, he had three RBI and five outs in the field. Brock Richardson was the leading scorer for Fallon with three runs and one RBI.
Fallon coach Lester de Braga said their bats were hot and the team came out with a strong offense, which he said they had struggled with all year. He was also proud of Larsen’s pitching.
“The game got out of hand a little bit,” de Braga said. “But for the most part I’m pretty happy with how things turned out … Hopefully, we can build on that and keep building momentum.”
The coach added the win was a team effort. He said everyone stepped up and did his job, adding to the win as a group.
Saturday recap by Adam Robertson