North Lake Tahoe baseball squad lands six on all-league list
The North Tahoe baseball team reached the state tournament for the first time in several seasons, and while things didn’t go according to plan, with a pair of losses knocking the Lakers out of the tournament, the team still had an outstanding 2018 campaign.
The Lakers gave the Southern League champions, Lincoln County, all they could handle to open the Class 2A state tournament last Thursday, 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.
The loss dropped the Lakers into the loser’s bracket semifinal the following day, where the team’s run came to an end after an 8-2 loss to league foe Yerington.
The Lakers took advantage of a pair of first inning walks to take a 1-0 lead, but the Lions responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame.
After a scoreless second inning, North Tahoe senior Graham Payne led off the top of the third with a triple. Junior Koby Mattson then drove Payne in with a single to left field to even the game at 2-2.
Yerington would go on to push across four runs in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a pair of Lakers errors. The Lions then added two more runs in the next inning.
Mattson accounted for three of North Tahoe’s four hits, and drove in both of the team’s runs. Lincoln County went on to defeat Yerington to claim this year’s Class 2A state championship.
The Lakers had only one experienced senior, Payne, on this year’s team, but still managed to win more than 20 games, take runners-up in the Northern League tournament, and qualify for the state tournament.
For their effort, a number of Lakers received league and state honors. Payne led the way as an all-state and all-league, first-team selection. Payne hit .447 this season and had a team-high six triples. Also earning all-league and all-state, first-team honors was Mattson. The Lakers junior led Class 2A with a .584 batting average and 21 doubles. Mattson also hade team-high 59 hits and 50 RBIs.
Lanza was also first-team all-league, and was named second-team all-state. The junior hit .480 this season and drove in 28 runs. Sam Sheridan, Danny Sandoval, and Kevin Tidd were each all-league honorable mention selections.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.