Vikings’ late run eliminates Greenwave
LVN Editor Emeritus
South Tahoe set the tone early in Friday’s game by taking advantage of two Fallon errors and then broke a tie in the top of the sixth inning — aided by another miscue — with the eventual winning run to defeat Fallon, 7-6, in the third round of the 2018 NIAA 3A Northern League Baseball Championships.
The Greenwave, which had a first-round bye, also lost another one-run game on Thursday, 3-2, to Truckee.
“It’s bad when you lose by one … it bites at you,” said Fallon coach Lester de Braga in looking back at the two games. “We had our chances but couldn’t capitalize on them. With our talent, we should’ve been able to come out of these situations.”
Both Fallon and South Tahoe clawed back and forth, but the Vikings capped the scoring when Jaden Aquino singled in a pair of runs. An infield error opened the inning, but Bryin Schouten’s bunt resulted in a force out at second. Chris Pfister singled to put runners on first and second with one out, and Alex Kapser walked to set up Aquino’s hit.
Pfister pitched against Fallon in the final two innings, allowing a triple from Sean McCormick in the sixth with two outs and surrendering a single to Shaw Lee in the seventh.
South Tahoe took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI from Kasper and Aquino’s sacrifice bunt with two outs and runners on the corners. Fallon, which outhit the Vikings 15-12 in the game, responded with a four-run, five-hit first inning.
With two outs, McCormick and Edgar Alvarado hit consecutive singles. Lee then produced a run-scoring single to cut South Tahoe’s lead in half. Brenden Larsen’s double down the right-field line resulted in another run, and Tommy McCormick cleared the bases with a triple in the gap.
Fallon pitcher Hayden Strasdin set South Tahoe down in order in the second inning but ran into trouble in the third. The Vikings resorted to small ball as Schouten opened the inning with his second bunt of the game. Galli followed with a single before Kasper’s grounder drove in a run. Cameron Lehman beat the throw on an infield hit, but the Vikings retook the lead when a run scored.
The Greenwave tied South Tahoe with a run in the bottom half of the third when Brenden Larsen singled home Alvarado, who had hit a ground-rule double with one out.
Fallon loaded the bases in the fifth inning. Alvaro singled with one out, and Lee reached base on an error. Larsen followed with a base hit. Tommy McCormick’s grounder scored the go-ahead run, 6-5, leaving runners on second and third base. A walk to Chase Irvin loaded the bases. The Vikings changed pitchers with Pfister relieving Aquino, who retired Fallon with a strikeout.
“It’s do or die,” de Braga said of the playoffs. “You make errors at the wrong time, but that’s part of the game.”
Truckee upsets No. 2 Fallon
Truckee rallied with the eventual winning run in the top of the sixth inning Thursday afternoon and then held Fallon in check for the next two innings to upset the No 2 seed, 3-2.
Greenwave starting pitcher Brenden Larsen began falling behind the count in the sixth inning with both teams tied at 2. Truckee’s Marcus Bellon led off the inning with a single to centerfield. Tyler Ferrera attempted to bunt Bellon to second and missed, leaving the lead-off hitter in a lurch between first and second base. Fallon catcher Edgar Alvarado hesitated on throwing as he tried to chase Bellon back, but Bellon headed toward second for a stolen base.
Brock Richardson made a diving catch of Shane Poe’s sharply hit ball to the outfield for the second out, but Bellon advanced to third. With Conner Estabrook batting, Larsen uncorked a wild pitch allowing Bellon to score. Estabrook walked, and starting pitcher Joel Estabrook singled, causing de Braga to switch pitchers.
Shaw Lee struck out Derek Laferriere to end Truckee’s threat and also pitched a scoreless seventh.
Fallon struck first, scoring two runs off Joel Estabrook in the first inning. With leadoff batter Brock Richardson on base, Nate Galusha ripped a double into the gap, allowing Richardson to score on the overthrow and Galusha to take third.
Sean McCormick and Alvarado walked to load the bases followed by Lee, who hit into a double play scoring Galusha. Truckee cut the lead in half with a run in the second inning. With two outs, both comebackers to Larsen, Elliott Rost smack a double to deep centerfield. Bellon hard-hit single skirted Larsen to score Rost.
Truckee threatened in the third by loading the bases, but the Wolverines fizzled on a third-out grounder. In the fifth inning with two outs, Laferriere reached first on a deep infield hit, and a walk put Truckee in scoring position with Laferriere on second. Colin Just’s arching fly ball to left field dropped for an RBI single.
Fallon struggled at the plate, being outhit 9-2.
Since sweeping Lowry in a doubleheader on April 28, Fallon lost five of six games to end the season.
“In years past, we (coaches) felt we peaked near playoff time, but this year we almost had the feeling we peaked at Elko,” de Braga pointed out. “The kids played their hearts out, but afterward, we hit a downward slope. Coaching-wise, we’re not sure what went wrong.”