Fallon’s crusade for title subdued
RENO — They battled, grinded and left it all on the field.
The desired result, however, came up short as the Fallon baseball team fell 9-2 to Faith Lutheran in the Division I-A state championship game at Peccole Park.
“I’m very proud of them,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said. “We hung with them, and were right there. We had opportunities we just didn’t quite capitalize on.
Hats off to them, they are a great team and got some timely hits. Getting here is an honor. You always want to win it all, but we aren’t going to hang our heads.
Needing two wins to claim the crown, Fallon turned the ball over Tristen Salazar. The senior was solid through four innings allowing three runs on six hits.
In the fifth inning, however, Faith Lutheran’s offense found its groove and scored four runs to pull away.
“It’s pretty hard and a rough feeling,” Salazar said. “In the end, it makes us better people.”
Salazar finished the game allowing eight hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
He started strong, mixing his pitches and keeping the Crusaders’ hitters off balance.
I knew I would have to hit my spots, and a couple times I was able to just blow it by them,” he said. “We all came in with our heads held high and played the best we could. We made a couple of errors and in the end it made a difference.”
With one out, Salazar hit Dakota Greenawalt and gave up consecutive singles to Cameron Sepede and Eric Uelman, the last scoring Greenawalt.
Freshman Alex Mendez came in for Salazar but couldn’t slow the bleeding. Justin Daraban cued a bloop infield single just out of the reach of Salazar, who moved to second base, to score Sepede.
Bobby Frank followed with another single and Daraban scored on a suicide squeeze.
The Crusaders added two runs in the bottom of the sixth to lock up their second straight DI-A title.
“Coming into the game, we knew it would be a tough game,” Salazar said. “They are a great team and played pretty flawless the last time we played them.
Both teams’ defenses struggled early as they combined for three errors in the first inning and seven overall, four by Fallon.
The Wave’s offense, meanwhile, struggled as Uelman, who signed to play at Cal Poly, allowed three hits and struck out 12, 10 of which came off a nasty slider. The Crusaders, meanwhile, notched 10 hits.
Fallon had its chances including loading the bases loaded in the second inning with no out.
Riley Williams doubled down the left field line and Trae Workman reach on a dropped third strike. Jack Swisher loaded the bases after he was hit by Uelman.
The Faith Lutheran senior, though, struck out Dalton Frank, Mo Coverston and Tyler Bagby to end the threat.
‘One hit there, and we probably see a different pitcher and probably a whole different ballgame,” de Braga said.
The Greenwave offense, though, did strike first to give Fallon a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Coverston reached on an error and advanced to second on an infield single by Tyler Bagby. A double steal put Coverston and Bagby on second and third and an errant throw by Faith Lutheran second baseman Logan Etherington allowed Coverston to score.
The Crusaders, though, answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning thanks to an RBI double by Greenawalt and a run-scoring triple off the bat of Sepede. Both runs scored with two outs.
Faith Lutheran pushed the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Uelman scored off an error by Sage Mori with two outs.
Fallon, though, cut the lead to 3-2 when Bagby smoked a double to left field to score Dalton Frank, who walked to lead off the inning.
“You got to work hard for everything you get,” de Braga said. “It’s going to take a lot of effort to get back here because it’s not easy to get to this point. If we do make it again, we can chalk it up to experience.”
Fallon opened the tournament with a 6-5 win over Chaparral on Thursday. The Wave followed the win with an 11-0 loss to Faith Lutheran on Friday but rebounded to beat South Tahoe, 11-1, to advance to the title game.
Against Chaparral, Bagby crushed a solo home run, while Branden Beeghly added a three-run blast to right center. Beeghly hit his second homer of the tournament — a two-run shot — on Friday against South Tahoe.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, blasted South Tahoe, 19-6, in the opener and beat Fallon twice. They outscored their opponents 36-8 in three games.
Fallon finished the season 24-10-1, while Faith Lutheran went 28-5.