Sun Devils complete sweep of state DiMaggio play
Douglas High products Chad Walling and Jimmy Pierce helped lead the Sierra Sun Devils to an 11-3 victory against the Carson Cardinals in the Joe DiMaggio state tournament finals on Sunday afternoon in Reno.
Walling pitched five solid innings, allowing only one earned run along the way, while Pierce hit 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles as the Sun Devils (27-10) completed their sweep of the state tournament at Wooster High School.
The Cardinals finished with a 4-2 tournament record, but coach Steve Cook wasn’t disappointed in the numbers on the scoreboard Sunday.
“It would have been tough to win two today; they have a great team and a great coaching staff,” Cook said. “We were a tired baseball team and it showed on the field today. But none of the kids gave up; they left it all on the field.
“It was an honor just to make it to the finals of that tournament. The kids decided they wanted to get there and they played their butts off to do it, so I’m very proud of them.”
The Sun Devils, batting .363 as a team for the summer season, collected 13 hits and scored 10 runs between the second and fifth innings to break the game open. A pair of Spanish Springs High players led the attack: Brad Carlsen went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs, while Vince Romo went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Glen DeWeese and Taylor Mieras joined Pierce with two hits each.
That was more than enough support for Walling, a right-hander who graduated from Douglas in June and is now set to play at Western Nevada Community College this coming year. Walling (3-1) allowed one unearned run on no hits in the third inning, then allowed two runs on two hits in the fourth. Tyler Fradd came on to pitch the final two innings to collect his second save of the season.
Rob Valerius singled to lead off the fourth – Carson’s first hit off Walling – then he came around to score when Jack Jacquet doubled. Jacquet later scored on a two-out error.
Ed Lovelace accounted for the Cardinals’ third hit on the day.
“I’m very excited about next year,” Cook said. “We made huge leaps this summer. From the first game of the summer to where we are, I’m proud of the kids. Every tournament we played in, we were very competitive. We were a tough team to beat.”
The state champion Sun Devils now move on to play in the Joe DiMaggio Tournament of Champions in Yountville, Calif., where they open the tournament on Thursday with a 5 p.m. game against host Napa. The Sun Devils won the national tournament in 2002 and ’03 and lost the final game of the tournament last year.
Paul Cagle pitched four solid innings and hit 3-for-3 with five RBIs to help his own cause as Carson rebounded from opening round loss the day before to defeat North Tahoe 12-2 in the Babe Ruth 13-15 state tournament Sunday afternoon in Sparks.
Cagle tripled two runs home in the first inning and Christian Volker doubled three runs home to highlight a five-run second inning as Carson charged to an early lead in a game played at Don Mello Sports Complex.
The win marked a complete turnaround from Saturday, when Carson lost its opener to Sparks by an identical 12-2 score.
Volker hit 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored from his leadoff spot in the order to help Carson win. Frankie Urbani went 1-for-2 and scored two runs, Brian Byrnes was 1-for-1 and scored twice, and No. 2 hitter Tommy Preston was 0-for-0 as he drew two walks, laid down one sacrifice bunt and scored twice.
Cagle pitched four innings, allowed two unearned runs, struck out six and walked one. David Eller pitched a perfect fifth, striking out two of the three batters he faced to close out the game.
Another bright spot was the performance of catcher David Leid, who was also behind the plate for the Carson Cardinals in their Joe DiMaggio state tournament championship game earlier in the day.
“David has an Injured ankle, but he is doing a phenomenal job,” Carson coach Trent Osmer said. “Nobody dares run on him because he has such a strong arm, and he does a great job handling the pitchers. We let him call the pitches unless we want something special.”
On Saturday, one bad inning proved to be the difference as Sparks scored nine of its 12 runs to defeat Carson. Then again, Osmer’s 15-year-old Carson squad also got off to a rough start last year when it lost to South Tahoe, but came back to reach the championship round.
“I think this team is as resilient as it was last year,” Osmer said. “It’s just de ja vu all over again. Anything that could have gone wrong did. But I think we’re going to play for a while. These kids are ready to play now.”
Cagle went 2-for-3 and was robbed of a hit in his other at bat and Volker played well defensive at first base for Carson.
Carson plays again today at 5:30 p.m. at Don Mello.