Lakers fall 6-4 in state tourney opener
The North Tahoe baseball team gave the Southern League champions, Lincoln County, all they could handle to open the Class 2A state tournament, but two late runs from the Lynx were enough to send the Lakers to a 6-4 defeat, and into the loser’s bracket.
“These guys came up big. They really did,” Head Coach Jesse Brown said on his team’s effort. “That’s the No. 1 team in the South, and we made them think about it.”
North Tahoe opened the four-team, double-elimination state tournament on Thursday, May 17, at Reed High School in Sparks, and got solid performances from pitchers Aiden Fenton and Xander Kriston, as well as the defense behind them, to give the team an opportunity to knock off a Lincoln County squad that went undefeated in league play this season.
Through two scoreless innings, North Tahoe made Lincoln County’s ace pitcher work, sending his pitch count past 50. Unfortunately, the Lakers weren’t able to push across any runs during that time, ultimately stranding 10 baserunners during the game.
“We came out ready to play, a couple of little mental mistakes, but that’s part of learning,” said Brown. “We were lacking a couple of big hits. We got a couple, but we left 10 guys on.”
The Lynx struck first with a trio of runs in the bottom of the third inning. The Lakers responded with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth off a two-out triple from senior Graham Payne, who was then driven in by junior Koby Mattson. Lincoln County then retook a one-run lead in the bottom of the frame.
The Lakers knotted the game in the top of the sixth when Mattson shot a double to left field, but it would be short-lived as the Lynx plated two more runs in the bottom of the inning to hold a 6-4 lead.
Lincoln County pitcher McKinley O’Connor went on to retire the Lakers in order in the top of the seventh to send the Lynx into the winner’s bracket final.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Lincoln County Head Coach Raymond Wadsworth on being tied late in the game. “I knew they were going to be tough. They are well coached, well prepared kids. It’s just fortunate we came out on top. What a great game, timely hitting, good pitching, it was just a fun game to watch.”
Mattson led North Tahoe from the plate, going 3 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Payne drove in the team’s other two runs. Sophomore Kevin Tidd finished his day with two hits.
The loss drops the Lakers into the loser’s bracket semifinal of the four-team, double elimination state tournament. North Tahoe will face Northern League foe, Yerington, with the season on the line on Friday, May 18 at 1 p.m. at Reed High School. The Lions, who were upset by Lake Mead Academy to open the tournament, have topped the Lakers in each meeting this season.