North beats South 9-3 in Kelley Baseball Showcase Classic
RENO — Douglas’ Austin Graham has only one more chance to play in the state tournament. If he ever does, the element of surprise will no longer be there.
Graham, facing Las Vegas pitching for the first time ever, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs as the North beat the South 9-3 in the 5th annual Kelley Baseball Showcase Classic on Saturday at Zunini Field.
The two teams conclude their series with a doubleheader starting today at 11:30 a.m. at Reno High.
The South has a reputation for dominating the North in baseball. That might be changing.
Wooster, just one of two Northern 4A teams in this season’s state tournament, won its first ever title with an 8-7 win over Centennial. The year before that, Galena advanced the state championship game. And in the five-year history of the Kelley Baseball Showcase Classic, which pits the top juniors from the North against the South, the North holds an 8-5 advantage. Oh yeah, the North swept all three games from the South in last year’s classic, the first time that’s ever happened. But has the South taken notice?
“They should start to,” Graham said. “We’ve got good ball players. We had a lot guys go division I last year so they should know we have some good players up here.”
The South definitely figured it out by the sixth inning, when the North scored five runs on six hits to turn a 4-3 lead into a six-run advantage. The South held one-run leads in the second and fifth innings, but they didn’t last .
Galena’s Steve Lerud hit a RBI triple in the third that scored Graham to tie the game at 3. Then in the fifth, with the South leading 3-2, Reed’s Lucas Delong hit a two-run double to put the North up for good. Delong went 3-for-4 and Lerud 2-for-4 for the North, which used three pitchers in the win.
North Valleys’ Scott Cousins started the game and lasted three innings. Reno’s Ben Colton pitched the next three innings and picked up the win. Steve Molof, another Husky, struck out two batters in the seventh to earn the save.
In all, five different North players had multiple-hit games, including McQueen’s Larry Nistler, who went 2-for-3, and Reno’s Drew Lipnosky, who was 2-for 4 with two RBIs.
Only one player, Silverado’s Jered Ferdinand, had more than one hit for the South. He went 2-for-2 with two RBIs. The other South run came off an pitching error in the fifth that gave it a 3-2 lead. 12 of the 20 players on the South roster played in the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Tournament.
“We’re just out here to have fun,” Graham said. “We got a whole bunch of good batters and we knew we had enough good pitchers that could shut them down. In that sixth inning we exploded for five runs, which outscored them right there.”
Carson’s Neil Holmes, Owen Brolsma and Ryan Henry didn’t play on Saturday but should play today.