Wave boys hand Elko first league loss
Elko Daily Free Press
ELKO — If nothing else, the former state champion Greenwave varsity baseball team reminded the formerly undefeated Indians who they were and what they were capable of this weekend.
The Indians began the weekend with a 14-8 victory on Friday, but the Wave followed up with a 3-0 shutout victory in Saturday’s first game despite losing the series in the last game, 8-7.
Elko still leads the league at 15-5-1 overall and 15-1 in DI-A, while Fallon, 11-8 overall and 8-6 in DI-A has its next chance to win at home against Lowry on Friday at 3 p.m.
Fallon coach Lester de Braga said he felt the Wave, as a team, finally got back to where they should be despite a series loss.
“We prevented a series sweep and we weren’t at full strength,” de Braga said, “but we’re working towards that and once we get there, I think we’ll show Elko we’re a little tougher than they thought we were.”
Elko began the game by recording consecutive outs against the Greenwave, but Fallon junior Jack Swisher knocked a single and senior Branden Beeghly followed with a walk.
After wild pitches with runners on, Swisher posted Fallon’s first run on a baulk before Indian senior pitcher Brenden Yocum fired his second strikeout of the inning to end the frame.
Elko took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first beginning with a run from senior RJ Bejarano on a double by senior Kyle Whitted and ending with a win by Whitted on a double by Benton Wickersham on the next at-bat.
Fallon retired in order in the top of the second, but the Indians failed to generate a run after a two-out double by senior Weston Warrick in the bottom half.
The Greenwave went down one-two-three for the second-consecutive frame in the top of the third, and Elko took advantage in the bottom half plating four runs.
Whitted won a 13-pitch battle with a single to right field, starting a string of three-consecutive base knocks, followed by one-baggers from Wickersham and Smiley, the latter scoring Whitted.
A single by senior Mykel Dick drove in Wickersham, and a double by junior Alec Wall drove in Smiley to give the Indians a 5-1 lead.
Dick scored on an error at third base, ending the inning with Elko on top 6-1.
Fallon’s chances of a comeback in the top of the fifth also faltered. The Greenwave kept the Indians in check in the bottom of the frame, ending the inning with a double play on a fly ball to senior Trae Workman, who fired to first base and finished off the runner.
Fallon managed a single by Mendez in the top of the sixth, and Elko took a 14-5 lead in the bottom of the frame.
A double by Wall, his second of the game, drove in Dick, who led off the inning with a single, and courtesy runner Jesse Aldridge came home on a sacrifice fly by Warrick to deep left center.
Warrick struck out the first Fallon batter in the top of the seventh inning, but the Greenwave stayed alive with a walk and a single by Workman on a tough play in the field. A batter was hit by a pitch, and the Wave’s Brock Uptain scored on an RBI groundout by Swisher.
Another hit batter and a wild pitch allowed Workman to score, cutting the lead to 14-7. Fallon’s Mike Porras drew a walk, and Mendez hit an RBI single to score sophomore Jake Wickizer, but Warrick finished the game with a punchout — solidifying Elko’s 14-8, series-opening victory.
The second game of the series was where the undefeated season came to a close for the Elko Indians on Saturday.
The Indians actually mounted more than hits in the first game of the double-header, smacking seven to Fallon’s five; however, Elko could not muster hits when it absolutely needed to most – when runners were on base.
Fallon senior pitcher Kendall Johnson threw a complete game, tossing seven innings of seven-hit, shutout baseball.
“Kendall Johnson did an excellent job,” de Braga said. “He probably threw the best game since he’s been in my program.”
Uptain led the Greenwave with two RBIs and two doubles, finishing 2-for-2 at the dish.
Baum and Wall each picked up two hits in the game with Baum and Wickersham each recording doubles for the Indians.
“Johnson pitched a good game for them, and the defense made plays when they had to,” said Elko coach Shane Gilligan. “We did not come up with hits when we had runners on base, but that’s baseball.”
The Indians bounced back with an 8-7 victory in the final game of the series but not without facing some adversity in the early stages and some late-game fireworks.
Fallon scored three runs with two outs in the top of the first, benefiting from a dropped fly ball in right field and allowing runs by Workman, Swisher and Beeghly.
Elko wiped out Fallon’s 3-0 lead with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first, tying the game.
Bejarano scored on a single by Whitted, who was driven home on a double by Wickersham to right field. Wickersham scored on a groundout RBI by Dick, knotting the game.
Another Elko mistake in the outfield in the top of the second inning, this time on a fly ball to center field, allowed senior Clay Davison to score, giving the Greenwave a 4-3 lead.
The Indians responded and won the inning with two runs in the bottom half, with Warrick scoring on a passed ball to tie the game and Wickersham smoking a double to left field to score Bejarano. Elko took a 5-4 lead.
Elko mounted only a single by Bejarano in the bottom of the sixth, and the game moved to the top of the seventh with Elko on top 8-5.
Mendez led off the inning with a triple, scoring on an RBI groundout by Porras. Davison reached on an error at shortstop, scoring after a double by senior Marshall Coverston and shrinking the Elko lead to 8-7.
The biggest and most-deciding play of the game occurred when Coverston was waved on round second base. Warrick hit Bejarano on the cutoff, and he fired the ball to senior third baseman Yocum, who applied the tag to end the game.
Elko withstood a late Fallon charge, hanging on for an 8-7 victory and taking two out of three in the series.
Julian Loera pitched a nice game for the Indians, throwing five innings and allowing five runs (zero earned runs).
Bejarano finished 3-for-4 at the plate, scoring a team-high three runs.
Wickersham went 2-for-2 with both hits going for doubles. For the Indians, Wickersham also tied Whitted and Baum for the team high in RBIs, driving in two apiece.
Workman hit three singles on 3-for-4 batting for Fallon.
Porras led the Greenwave with two RBIs and double, and Coverston collected an RBI on his double in the bottom of the seventh.
Davison and Mendez each scored a team-best two runs for the Greenwave.
“I’m glad with how we fought back in the second game,” Gilligan said. “I knew the series was going to be very tough. Fallon has a great team. It was good for our guys to be placed in some high-pressure situations, and we have to improve in that area. We try to stress to the kids that pressure is something you place on yourself. We have to gain the ability to take a deep breath, slow our minds down and come through in tough spots.”
Sports Editor Mike Sciandra contributed to this story.