North Tahoe baseball: Incline takes two from Lakers in weekend doubleheader
TAHOE VISTA – Saturday’s doubleheader between Incline and North Tahoe had a little bit of everything for all types of baseball fans.
There was the pitchers’ duel and tight defensive play in the first outing, where a combined four runs managed to come across home plate. And then there was a wild, high-scoring, extra-innings affair in the second, with 34 runs scored.
The first game saw one pitcher from each squad retire batter after batter through all seven innings. The second was a constant back-and-forth battle that, while at times sloppy, was not short on excitement.
For Incline, however, there was one important continuity: the Highlanders (6-11 overall, 4-6 in league) got the win in both games, 3-1 and 19-15.
“I don’t care what it looks like, as long as we win,” Incline coach Jeff Clouthier said. “It feels great. We wanted to take two games today, get back on the right track and carry that on the rest of the way.”
In the first game, Incline sophomore pitcher Patrick Howe surrendered just four hits and one run in seven innings en route to his fourth win of the season. He was helped by eight strikeouts and a defense that didn’t commit a single error when the ball was put in play.
“I felt good today, and a good defense backed me up, which helped me stay confident,” Howe said.
North Tahoe senior pitcher Chris Cahill was equally dominant on the mound but was hurt by a few defensive miscues at crucial times. He had the Lakers up 1-0 in the fifth inning, before Incline senior Mitch Powell knocked in the go-ahead run.
“Chris was excellent,” North Tahoe coach Chauncey Battaglia said. “He deserved better. Our defense let him down a bit, and the offense couldn’t get going.”
The second game was every bit as a close, but it was the bats that would decide the outcome.
North Tahoe jumped out to early leads of 1-0 after the first inning, 6-1 after the second and 7-6 after the third, but Incline quickly pulled even. By the bottom of the seventh, the Lakers were down three, 14-11, when senior Zach Tomlinson started a rally with an RBI single.
In extra innings, both teams brought back their Game 1 aces, Cahill and Howe, who pitched scoreless eighth innings. In the ninth, however, Incline got through to Cahill for five runs. Their 19-14 lead was more than enough, as Howe gave up just one run to close out the game for his second win of the day.
The two wins were big ones for Incline, but the Lakers were only a few plays away from taking either game. The team may be winless on the year, but they didn’t play like it Saturday. Battaglia said he is pleased with the progress his young team is making.
“We let two slip away,” Battaglia said. “But the kids are really playing hard, and I’m proud of everything they’ve done. I’m not focusing on wins and losses. I’m focusing on teaching our young players how to play this game.”
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For decades the snap of a baseball into a leather glove has signaled a return to warmer weather and the onset of spring in Truckee.