Pitching lifts Wave to regional crown
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Three solid pitching performances carried the Fallon baseball team to its first Northern Division I-A regional title in four years.
The Greenwave beat South Tahoe, 13-3, in six innings on Saturday in the final to claim the crown and sets up a first-round date with Chaparral in the DI-A state tournament at 4 p.m. Thursday at Sparks High School. South Tahoe, meanwhile, earned its first-ever state bid and faces defending state champ Faith Lutheran at 1 p.m.
In the final, de Braga handed the ball to Cade Monardo, allowed three runs on five hits and struck out two in six innings. He mixed his pitches, hit his spots to prevent the Vikings from mounting any serious threat.
“Brilliant, really,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said of Monardo’s outing. “That is something that can carry us through the state tournament.”
Tristen Salazar and Alex Mendez, meanwhile, shut the door on Spring Creek and South Tahoe, respectively, on Friday.
Salazar’s outing as Spring Creek, though, started slow as he hit the leadoff batter and the defense committed three errors in the first two innings. He allowed three runs through four frames, but allowed only two hits in the two innings.
“I used my experience to get over the errors we had,” Salazar said. “We pick each other up. We kept going on and won the game.”
Mendez, meanwhile, may have had the best performance of the weekend.
With Fallon trailing 2-0 and starter Joe Pyle struggling, Mendez came on in relief in the second inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Facing one of the league’s best hitters in the league, South Tahoe’s Dominic Diana, Mendez secured an easy pop-out to second base to get out of the jam.
The freshman did not allow a run and surrendered four hits in the final four innings and induced a pair of double plays to hold the Vikings scoreless.
“It just shows, how much confidence we have in him,” de Braga said of Mendez. “We had two tremendous pitching performances from Tristen Salazar and Alex Mendez.”
The offense, meanwhile, started slowly on Friday but delivered the knockout blow in the second inning in the title game.
Fallon put up six runs aided by two errors from the Vikings. Dylan Jabines drove in Salazar and scored on a two-run single by Austin Bischoff.
Branden Beeghly drove in Dalton Frank on a fielder’s choice, while Bischoff scored on a throwing error.
“I think we played tight a little,” de Braga said.
Fallon added four runs in the fourth inning including a two-run home run by Jabines. Tyler Bagby pushed across the winning run with a title-clinching single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“After last year … it really hurt,” Bagby said. “To get the regional crown makes it feel that much better.”
On Friday, however, the offense sputtered early in both games, but finally busted loose in the fifth inning against Spring Creek.
Tied at 3, Cody Long smoked a double to score Pyle, and Salazar crossed home on an errant throw from the outfield. Trae Workman followed with a triple to left field and scored on a double by Jack Swisher.
Bagby, meanwhile, left no doubt of the outcome in the sixth inning when he blasted a home run to left centerfield.
“He (Bagby) has been one of our key players all year, and as he goes, we go,” de Braga said. “He’s just one key to our success.”
Trailing 2-0 against South Tahoe, the Wave exploded for seven runs in the third inning highlighted by a two-run single from Long.
Frank clinched Fallon’s state berth in the sixth inning with a suicide squeeze to score Williams.
“We started back from the last out of last year’s regional,” de Braga said. “The whole thing played right in where we want to be.”