North Tahoe baseball: Lakers clinch playoff berth with lopsided win
The Northern Division III regional tournament will be contested at Pershing County High School in Lovelock on May 13-14. North Tahoe opens against top-seeded Yerington on May 13 at 9 a.m., while second-seeded Pershing County faces third-seeded Battle Mountain at 11:30 a.m. The top two teams advance to the state tournament, which is scheduled for May 19-21 at Wooster High School in Reno.
TAHOE VISTA — Graham Payne didn’t need much offensive support in the Lakers’ playoff-clinching win Monday. But he got it anyway.
The sophomore hurler breezed through five innings, holding visiting Silver Stage to three hits while striking out seven in an 11-1 victory on senior farewell.
With the win North Tahoe improved to 6-10 in league and secured the No. 4 seed in the Northern Division III regional tournament. The playoff berth comes with a date against top-seeded Yerington, which will enter the postseason tournament May 13-14 with a perfect 18-0 record.
It was all Lakers in their final home game.
Payne retired the first six batters he faced in order and did not surrender a hit until Madison Richards singled to lead off the fourth. Richards later scored on a wild pitch.
By that time North Tahoe already led 5-0 after opening with a two-run first and three-run second against Silver Stage starter Takoda Stewart, who had to pitch through four errors.
After spotting the Nighthawks their one run, the Lakers broke the game open with six runs in the bottom half of the frame. North Tahoe sent nine batters to the plate in the inning, which began with a leadoff single by Aidan Fenton.
Xander Kriston followed with a base hit two batters later, which set the table for RBI singles by Koby Mattson and Drew Austin and an RBI double by Trent Lingruen. A Silver Stage error scored another North Tahoe run, and Payne helped his cause with an RBI that extended the lead to 10-1.
Lingruen scored on a wild pitch to cap the rally, and the game ended on the 10-run mercy rule after Payne pitched a scoreless fifth.
The Nighthawks struggled early defensively, committing two errors in the first inning and two more in the second. Combined with numerous wild pitches and aggressive baserunning by the Lakers, the hosts led 3-0 before recording their first hit — a two-run single off the bat of Mattson in the second.
Aside from allowing the one run in the fourth, the only other trouble for Payne came in the third, when he walked Roy Clower to lead off the inning — his only walk of the game — and plunked the next batter, Dwight Tennis. Payne struck out the next two hitters before his catcher, Mattson, fired a pickoff attempt to Kriston at third that caught Clower off guard. The big senior bolted for home, but Kriston shot him down with an accurate throw to the plate.
Mattson led the offense with three RBIs on a 2-for-3 performance, while Austin and Joseph Lanza each had two hits and two RBIs, and Lingruen had two hits and an RBI. Kriston, Fenton and Liam Bickett-Walsh had one hit apiece.
After the game the Lakers held a farewell ceremony for their one senior, Austin.
The Lakers and Nighthawks (2-14 league) end the regular season with a doubleheader at Silver Stage on Tuesday.