Baseball northern regional tournament kicks into gear

Based on its season and top-two finish in the Northern 3A, Fallon baseball coach Lester de Braga likes his team’s chances to win this week’s regional tournament.

The three-day tournament begins Thursday in Fallon with the Greenwave receiving a first-round bye and playing the winner of Truckee and Spring Creek on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Elko has the other bye and will play the winner of Dayton and South Tahoe at 2:30 p.m. Dayton and South Tahoe begin the regionals with a 9 a.m. game.

On Friday the loser’s bracket quarterfinals have games at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The winner’s bracket final (winner goes to state) starts at 2 p.m. with the losers bracket semifinals at 4:30 p.m.

KKTU Radio, (99.5 FM) will broadcast the Fallon games with Larry Barker calling the play by play.

Fallon (17-11-1 overall, 17-7 in league) dropped its first series of the year, losing two games to Dayton over the weekend. Dayton needed two wins to advance to the regional tournament, which took the top six teams.

Fallon coach Lester de Braga and his staff feel confident about Fallon’s chances of advancing to the state tournament out of regionals, especially since the tournament is on Fallon’s home field. Any of the third-sixth teams could get hot, though, and upset the league’s two top teams. De Braga said Truckee is on a roll, winning its sixth straight, South Tahoe has won seven of its last nine games, and Dayton had won eight straight until its loss to Fallon on Saturday.

“There’s a lot of luck going into this tournament,” de Braga added. “It’s a whole new season.”

During the regular season, Fallon swept Spring Creek and fought off a stubborn Truckee team to win two out of three on the Fallon field. De Braga said Fallon’s lineup is strong and has been steady for the entire season as has the pitching. After the Dayton series, de Braga said the Fallon bats need to come alive and drive in runners in scoring position.

The Dust Devils (15-13, 12-12) surprised Fallon, 10-4, Friday in Dayton and then took the series with a 3-2 victory in Saturday’s first doubleheader. A Greenwave comeback in the second game, however, salvaged a win, 4-3.

Fallon, though, lost its grip on first place. Going into the weekend series, Fallon held a one-game edge over Elko (19-9, 18-6), but the Indians swept Fernley to send Fallon to second place, one game behind the Indians.

The Greenwave’s final game against Dayton looked bleak going into the seventh inning with Fallon trailing 3-2. With two outs, Jake Wickizer had stroked a base hit followed by Nate Galusha’s hopper over shortstop. After Fallon tied the game, Sean McCormick singled in the go-ahead run.

Wickizer, who pitched to two batters in the sixth inning and the entire seventh inning, picked up the win for Fallon.

Dayton took the early lead with two runs off Bryce Larsen. Justin Schmidt’s infield hit scored a run and Isaac Von Schoff followed with an RBI single.

Fallon tied the game with a run in the fifth and sixth innings. Chase Irvin’s RBI single in the fifth inning came with runners on second and third, and first baseman Shaw Lee’s double tied the game in the sixth.

Dayton’s Trevor Burrows’ single in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Dayton a 3-2 lead.

The Dust Devils trailed in the second game, 2-0, before scoring three runs in the fifth inning against Greenwave pitcher Brenden Larsen. With two outs, Dayton started its rally with an infield hit, walk and single. A throwing error led to one run, and Zach Woitas smacked a two-run double. Von Schoff picked up the win with Burrows earning a save.

Although Larsen lost to Dayton, de Braga said his junior right-hander has been “awesome” this season. Sean McCormick had two hits and an RBI for Fallon.

Edgar Alvarado belted two homers in Friday’s game, but that wasn’t enough to overcome Schmidt’s day at the plate. Schmidt smacked a two-run homer and a grand slam. Dayton put the game out of reach with an eight-run third inning against Fallon starting pitcher Hayden Strasdin.

“Hayden struggled the last few games, but I feel something big is coming up,” de Braga said.

Burrows pitched the entire game for Dayton, allowing seven hits and fanning seven.

De Braga said Fallon had chances to score more runs against Dayton in the doubleheader but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities.

“We had great pitching performances,” de Braga said. “Our pitching kept us in the games … wish we could’ve given them run support.”


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