Pitching, defense carry Fallon to series win over Elko
Strong pitching from its top two starters carried the Greenwave baseball team to its second series win of the year last weekend.
Fallon senior Alex Mendez blanked Elko, 6-0, in Friday’s series opener at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex before sophomore Hayden Strasdin shut down the Indians, 10-2, Saturday morning as Fallon took the series from the defending regional champ. Elko, though, salvaged the series by winning the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, 11-0.
Fallon improved to 8-5 in the 3A and travels to Winnemucca this weekend for a three-game series with Lowry. Elko dropped out of first to 11-5.
“We had great pitching and great defense in the first two games and we hit the ball throughout. We kind of put it all together in the first two games,” Fallon coach Lester de Braga said. “It was actually one of the first series we had at home and they were excited. Everybody knows (Elko) is one of the teams who we have to beat to show where we are at with competitiveness. It’s a matter of getting the job done and getting to regionals and a better seeding by beating Elko.”
The lowest earned run average in the Division 3A North dropped a little lower Friday as Mendez entered the series opener against Elko with an ERA of .250, and after throwing a four-hit shutout against the Indians the number now reads .200.
“It’s the best I’ve seen his offspeed stuff work,” de Braga said of Mendez. “That was probably one of his best games I’ve seen him pitch. He’s mostly relied in the past on his fastball and location. He had his offspeed stuff working this weekend.”
Fallon took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half on a single by senior Jack Swisher, driving in sophomore Sean McCormick. After hitting a single, sophomore Edgar Alvarado scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Hayden Strasdin for a 2-0 advantage.
The only Elko runner to reach base in the top of the second was sophomore Kaleb Martinez, who notched the Indians’ second hit of the game on a single.
Fallon senior T.J. Fagg drilled a leadoff triple in the bottom of the second, scoring on a passed ball for a 3-0 lead. The batter drew a walk, McCormick nailed a single to center field and sophomore Chase Irvin crossed the dish on a sac fly by Mendez for a 4-0 cushion.
McCormick rolled in after a single by Swisher, who was caught stealing to end the innings — but Fallon had built a 5-0 advantage.
“What got us those two wins was the full lineup,” de Braga said of the hitting. “A lot of kids up and down the lineup produced when they needed to. We put two, three hits per inning together.”
Fallon 10, Elko 2
Hayden Strasdin pitched extremely well for Fallon, tossing a complete game. He allowed two runs (none earned) on five hits over seven innings as Fallon put the ball in play often and early against Elko in the first game on Saturday, racking up seven of their 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning.
“He’s getting the ball down. The curve ball and everything was working well for him, too,” de Braga said of Strasdin. “It’s one of his best outings of the season so far. He still has some work to do.”
A two-RBI single by senior Jack Swisher drove in sophomore Sean McCormick and Alex Mendez to start the scoring spree. Swisher put the Greenwave on top 3-0 on a single by senior Brock Uptain, and a two-RBI double to center field by sophomore Chase Irvin jumpstarted Fallon to a 5-0 lead, driving in sophomore Edgar Alvarado and senior Dalton Kaady.
Irvin crossed on a single by senior Colton Coverston on the next at-bat, notching the sixth run of the frame without an out. Freshman Brock Richardson scored on a passed ball for the final run of the inning.
Fallon led 7-0.
The Indians found the board on a single in the top of the third inning, scoring sophomore Brycen Kelly.
Fallon answered the run and added another for their final scores of the contest in the bottom half.
Coverston crossed after an Elko error at second base, and Richardson rolled home on an RBI single by Mendez, opening a 10-1 advantage.
Elko freshman Colby Tiner took advantage of a Fallon error in right field in the top of the fourth, but his run proved to be the final of the game.
Elko 11, Fallon 0
In the matinee game, the Indians bounced back with a dynamo pitching performance, salvaging a win in shutout fashion — riding a complete-game, three-hit effort on the mound by Tiner.
“Baseball’s just a humbling sport,” de Braga said. “They had a different pitcher who had different velocity. You have to make adjustments. It’s just part of the game. Offensively, we struggled but it was a difference in pitching. It’s just something we’ll continue to work on and try to be prepared for any pitching we face down the road.”
The Indians placed their mark on the game and the ball early, plating five runs in the top of the first.
Senior Carlos Loera scored the game’s first run, coming on a single by senior Alec Wall.
A two-RBI single by Backherms drove in Byington and sophomore courtesy runner Christian Quintana for a 3-0 lead.
Elko followed with singles by junior Julian Loera and sophomore Cooper Jones, and Backherms tagged up and scored from a sacrifice fly by sophomore Kaleb Martinez.
A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Austyn Marin plated the final run of the inning, scoring Jones and giving the Indians a 5-0 advantage.
Fallon placed two runners on base in the bottom half, but Elko ended the inning with an 8-4-3 double play on a fly ball to Jones in center — firing to Marin at second base and over to Backherms at first, nailing the runner before he tagged up.
Elko scored two runs with two outs in the top of the second, finding a run by Quintana on a single by Jones, who scored after an error at second base on a groundball from Julian Loera.
The Indians’ 7-0 lead grew to 9-0 in the top of the fourth, plating the first run by Backherms on a Julian Loera single.
With two outs, he rolled home on a single to right field by Tiner.
The Indians took a double-digit lead in the top of the seventh, posting a run by Marin on a single by Carlos Loera and adding the game’s final score by Byington on a two-out single by junior Ryan Wickersham.
Elko Daily Free Press sports editor Anthony Mori contributed to this story.