TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — More often than not, Incline and North Tahoe play tightly contested baseball games decided by a couple of runs or fewer.
Game 1 of their Mount Rose League doubleheader at North Tahoe Regional Park on Saturday played out in such fashion, as the host Lakers won 4-3 behind a complete-game effort by their senior ace. Game 2, however, did not follow the norm. North Tahoe scored 10 runs in the first inning en route to a 19-1 thumping.
“The bats we’ve been waiting for for awhile finally showed up, so that was nice to see,” said North Tahoe coach Matt Drury. “It was good for our confidence. Hopefully we can roll with the momentum.”
The first game remained close throughout as senior starters Colin Spencer and Cam Powell engaged in a duel. While Spencer did not have his best control — he hit four Incline batters and walked another four — he was plenty effective. He finished with 18 strikeouts and limited the Highlanders to just three hits.
“The last inning I switched to the stretch because I had better control. I kept having to work on the mound. I was planting and rolling my ankle,” said Spencer, who threw 118 pitches. “I’m real picky when it comes to my mound.”
Powell kept his team in the game with a gritty complete-game effort as well. He kept North Tahoe hitters off-balance with a mix of speeds while throwing strikes and keeping his pitch count at a minimum. He fanned five hitters and allowed only three hits and two earned runs, on 87 pitches.
“Cam threw a great game,” said Incline coach Jeff Clouthier. “He battled the whole way and had his intensity up. He should have won, but he came through when he needed to.”
Trailing 3-1, Incline scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning to knot the score, as Kris Dirga was hit by a pitch and eventually came in on a wild pitch and Jack Clouthier drove in Austin Sneed with an RBI single.
The Lakers answered in the bottom of the sixth with the go-ahead run, aided by an Incline miscue. Shane Christian hit a fly ball to deep right field that was misjudged and allowed to fall as a hustling Christian made it all the way to third. With Lucas Early called on to deliver a suicide squeeze bunt, which he successfully did in the second inning to tie the score at 1-1, Christian instead scored on a wild pitch that put the Lakers in front, 4-3.
Spencer then struck out the side in the top of the seventh, stranding Powell on second after he reached on a base hit and advanced into scoring position on a balk.
“I felt like we played them tough,” Powell said. “It was a really good game. Nobody has really played Colin tough like that all year, so it was nice to show that we can compete. It would have been nice to come out with a win, but it just didn’t happen.”
Incline struck first with a run in the opening frame, as Jack Clouthier reached base when he was hit by a pitch and later scored on an overthrow of third on a steal attempt.
North Tahoe hit the ball hard three times in the bottom of the first but had nothing to show for it after Clouthier made two highlight catches in center field. The sophomore charged in and dove to rob Wildon DesLauriers of a hit for the second out. He then drifted back on a smashed liner off the bat of Spencer and hauled it in at the warning track for the third out.
The Lakers tied the score in the second when Mitchell Myers reached on an error and scored on a suicide squeeze executed by Early. They edged ahead shortly after when Christian scored all the way from second on a high throw to first.
North Tahoe then extended its lead to 3-1 in the third when Baird Bishop came through with a clutch single that drove in Spencer from second, after Spencer reached on a missed fly ball.
“It was a good game. I’m proud of the way we battled all the way through, but the end result was because of us not making plays in the field, and that’s been the story all year,” said coach Clouthier, who also lamented his team’s handful of missed sacrifice bunt attempts.
Spencer now has 62 strikeouts in 34 innings, while he improved to 4-2 on the year with a 2.06 ERA.
Night cap gets away from Highlanders
Game 2 got ugly in a hurry.
Incline sophomore Tommy Dolan started and immediately ran into trouble after walking the first two batters and giving up a two-run double to the left-center gap by Spencer. After two pitches to Bishop, Dolan was removed with pain in his throwing shoulder.
The Lakers continued to rally after Jack Clouthier came on in relief, scoring eight more runs in the inning to take a commanding 10-0 lead. After a scoreless second, North Tahoe added another five runs in the third and four in the fourth.
DesLauriers started and gave up three hits and a run in four innings, with five strikeouts. Alex Tyler threw a scoreless inning in relief as the game was called after five on the 10-run rule.
Tyler had three hits and two RBIs, while Christian had a double, triple and three RBIs, Spencer had a double, triple and four RBIs, and DesLauriers had three hits and an RBI. Lucas Likes, Alex Bourriague, Miles Johanson, Tyler Olk, Myers, Bishop, Drew Austin and Early each contributed one hit.
Powell and Ben Snyder had a double apiece, while Dolan had a hit and the Highlanders’ only RBI.
DesLauriers lowered his ERA to 1.84 as he improved to 3-1 on the year. He has 28 strikeouts in 19 innings.
“Wildon threw great. He’s been throwing well all year,” Drury said. “He’s not as dominant as Colin, but he locates well and puts it where he wants it. I’m happy with the progress he’s made since last year.”
North Tahoe (8-6) is scheduled to host Whittell on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Incline (6-11-1) will host a doubleheader against Sparks on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.