Incline baseball | Hot start for Highlanders, offense |

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Incline baseball | Hot start for Highlanders, offense

Highlanders improve to 6-0 in league

The Incline baseball team improved to 6-0 in league play with a doubleheader sweep over Silver Stage, 17-13 and 12-2, on Saturday in Carson City.

The Highlanders scored 11 runs in the first two innings of the opener only to allow the Nighthawks to pull to within three runs, at 12-9, in the fifth inning. The Highlanders scored three more runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to pad their lead.

Incline had 16 hits, led by Tommy Thompson’s 4-for-5 game with three doubles and five RBIs, and Nicky Witty’s 4-for-5 performance with a double, triple and four RBIs.

Tommy Dolan drove in three runs on two hits, including a double, while Jack Clouthier had a two-hit game.

Dolan steadied the Incline defense with a solid start in Game 2. He fanned 13 hitters in a six-inning complete-game, allowing only two runs on four hits and a walk.

Witty was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Masxsimo Battel, Clouthier and Bryan Banuelos each had two hits.

So far, the Highlanders have relied on out-slugging their opposition. And so far, it’s worked.

The Incline baseball team has compiled a 7-2 record through nine games (6-0 in league) while averaging 14.5 runs and allowing 10.2.

“Hitting has definitely been our strong point early on,” said Incline coach Jeff Clouthier. “Our pitching is starting to come around and we’ve been struggling on defense. But we’ve been able to outscore most teams.”

Incline’s offense has lit up nearly every opposing pitcher. The team is batting .414 collectively, with three players hitting over .500.

Junior pitcher and first baseman Tommy Dolan is batting a team-high .613 with two home runs, six doubles and 19 RBIs, junior catcher and pitcher Tommy Thompson is hitting .583 with a home run, two triples, eight doubles and a team-high 28 RBIs, and junior shortstop and pitcher Jack Clouthier is hitting .517 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

Junior Ben Snyder, who’s been designated hitter as he struggles with arm soreness, has posted a .429 average with 16 RBIs, while senior center fielder Masxsimo Battell is hitting .432 and junior infielder Nicky Witty .471 with 13 RBIs.

Jack Clouthier leads off the order, Battel is second, Thompson third and Dolan cleanup. They are followed by Snyder in the fifth slot, Witty, Owen Graffis, Kenny Savelieff and either Bryan Banuelos, Conor Nix or Chris Rehberger.

Others on the roster, which includes three seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen, are Owen Price, Daniel Luksch, Alex Barnard, Jason Guth, James Larson and Adam Swick.

Incline’s 6-0 record in the Northern Division III is the result of three doubleheader sweeps against the lower rung of the league — West Wendover, White Pine and Silver Stage.

It’s a good start, but coach Clouthier knows the Highlanders will need to shore up their defense and get more quality innings out of their entire pitching staff — beyond starters Dolan and Clouthier — if they want to earn one of four regional playoff seeds.

He figures there will be five teams battling for four spots — Incline (6-0), Battle Mountain (6-0), North Tahoe (5-1), Yerington (3-3) and Pershing County (4-2).

Incline is scheduled to play a doubleheader at Yerington on Saturday. The Highlanders will host North Tahoe on April 19.