North Tahoe Hooligans win district tournament title
GARDNERVILLE ” A never-say-die North Tahoe squad battled back not once, but twice en route to a 13-12 victory against Washoe in the District 1 Little League Hooligan Tournament championship game on Wednesday night.
Jordan Wright came off the bench and hit an off field triple down the left field line to drive Austin Barraza home with the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning as North Tahoe’s Hooligans (11-12 year olds) capped off a perfect week in which they won seven straight games at Ranchos Aspen Park.
According to coach Lane Lewis, this marked the first championship in 27 years for North Tahoe Little League.
North Tahoe defeated Sparks Centennial 13-1 to begin the single elimination championship bracket play on Monday, then defeated Reno American West 8-0 in the semifinals on Tuesday.
“The kids played outside themselves,” Lewis said.
In the final, Washoe held leads of 10-3 and 12-10, only to see North Tahoe come back both times. North Tahoe scored seven runs after two outs in the fourth inning to tie the score at 10, then scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to win it.
The comeback didn’t surprise North Tahoe manager Tom Menning. He’d seen that type of character from this group of young players throughout the regular season.
“I think the important thing, these kids hadn’t quit all year, and they never quit in this tournament,” said Menning, who had six players from a Diamondbacks club that swept through the league’s regular season without a loss.
“When they came back from seven runs down to tie it, I thought then that it was our game. Then, when they went up by two runs, I knew we didn’t have much time left, but I still thought we could do it.”
That they did.
Washoe scored twice in the top of the sixth to take a 12-10 lead. Martin Cooper’s home run broke the 10-10 tie to put Washoe on top.
Patrick Howe slapped a single into right field to lead off North Tahoe’s rally in the bottom of the sixth. Patrick Murray followed with a one-out single to right, and Howe came all the way around to score after a throwing error on the play. Murray dashed home on a wild pitch moments later to tie the score.
Austin Barraza, hitting in the No. 7 spot in the order, walked to keep the rally alive, and then the left-handed Wright hit a 3-1 pitch inside the left field foul line that brought Barraza around with the winning run.
Nyko Motola’s three-run home run ignited a rally in which North Tahoe erased a 10-3 deficit in the fourth inning. Conner Altick reached base on a walk, advanced when Kyle Lewis singled with two outs and Motola homered over the left-center field fence.
Ethan Dillard, Howe and T.J. Menning connected for successive singles and Murray doubled off the center field fence to make it 10-9. Murray scored on a wild pitch to tie the score.
Motola, Dillard and Murray each went 3 for 4 and Howe 2 for 4 to lead North Tahoe’s 15-hit offense. Murray and Barraza connected for back-to-back doubles to drive in runs in the second inning.
Motola also had nice catches in right field for putouts that ended the first and second innings, as well as a catch for the first out of the sixth.
Lewis pitched the final two innings ” retiring the side in order in the fifth ” to earn credit for North Tahoe’s second tournament win against Washoe, a traditional Little League power in Northern Nevada.
“The great thing about this, we had 30 kids to pick this team from ” our league has four major league teams ” and Washoe had something like 200,” the North Tahoe manager said.
“And we beat them, twice,” added coach Lewis, referring to North Tahoe’s 10-8 win over Washoe on the tournament’s opening day. “It was sweet.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Washoe scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally past North Tahoe, 12-11, in the Renegades (9-10 year olds) Tournament championship game at Ranchos Aspen Park.
North Tahoe had scored four times in the top of the sixth to take an 11-9 lead. Ian Letsinger doubled and Wildon DesLauriers walked to lead off the rally. Then with two outs, Cam Powell singled, Shane Christian doubled and Fletcher McConnell singled.
DesLauriers hit 2 for 3 with three runs scored, Letsinger 2 for 4 and Dakoda Dodson 2 for 3. Quinn Letsinger doubled in the fourth for North Tahoe.