North Tahoe Little League All-Stars come together in tournament
With two games down and no and#8220;Wand#8221; in the bracket, the North Tahoe All-Stars needed change.
The team, made up of the top players from Kings Beach, Incline Village and the West Shore and#8212; and coached by Beth Gebhardt, Eric DesLauriers and Steve Covello and#8212; had only four games to qualify for the quarterfinals of the upcoming 12-year-old Little League tournament at Gardnerville’s Aspen Park.
It made sense for Covello to move Joey Thurman into a full-game catching schedule, because pitcher Tommy Dolan would start the third do-or-die game for and#8220;NT.and#8221; And this duo had been working together for the last three years.
Starting against Reno American East, Dolan quickly established his 70 mph fastball while striking out the side in the top of the first inning. The Reno All-Stars pushed across one run, however, on a hit batter and an error.
Dependable North Tahoe second baseman Jack Clouthier started off the bottom of the first with a hit and two stolen bases, but he was left stranded on base.
Wildon DesLauriers, North Tahoe’s shortstop, started off the next inning with a double, and outfielder/pitcher Tommy Thompson hit a single. But North Tahoe again failed to score.
Meanwhile, Dolan’s fastball and rare knuckle ball drew a crowd behind home plate as Reno managed to score one more run to take a 2-0 lead.
The North Tahoe offense made some noise in the third, when Homewood’s Lucas Early ripped a single and Dolan crushed a home so far it flew over the fence, scoreboard, adjacent lawn and was last heard ripping leaves off the aspens in the woods. Third baseman Mitchell Myers then doubled, Wildon doubled and Tommy Thompson drove him in with a blazing triple into left before being thrown out at home. Cole Steinberg, Clouthier and Emmett Covello also contributed to the rally, which ended with North Tahoe leading 4-2 at the end of three innings.
Starting the fourth with his eighth and ninth strikeouts, Dolan’s pitch count was nearing 85, the limit for Little League. Lucas Early, and then Tommy Thompson, were moved in to relieve in a wild fourth inning in which Reno American East scored four runs to take a 6-4 lead.
After the Reno All-Stars scored another run in the top of the fifth, Tommy Thompson started another comeback in the bottom half of the inning with another blazing line drive between third and short. Jack Clouthier drove him in before Covello walked and Thurman drove him around the bases with a single.
Dolan was intentionally walked after his monster home run. Covello then stole home, as did Thurman, and in a call that could have gone either way, Dolan attempted to tie the game with another steel, but was thrown out.
Clouthier, who had come in to pitch in the bottom of the fifth, showed brilliance in his pitch choice, which continued to confound the top of the Reno order until a long shot to left field by Randy Hutton was snagged by Cole. Then, playing heads-up baseball, DesLauriers took the fielder’s choice to make an unforced play to third baseman Mitchell Myers, who tagged out what might have been a winning run. Clouthier finished them with a strikeout.
Behind by a run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Thompson ripped another single, followed by Steinberg to load the bases. Clouthier then took a pitch in the back for the team to reach base. Behind in the count 1-2, Emmett Covello dropped a perfect hit between first, second and the pitcher to score Thompson and tie the game.
In extra innings, Clouthier again worked his magic with the help of Steinberg, diving for a near-home run hit by Reno’s Ryan Boucher. That play was followed by a dead-on throw from Thompson, who was back in right, to third and a and#8220;pickleand#8221; that ended threat No. 2 in the top of the seventh. With a runner on first, Myers stopped a ball hit to third and threw to Dolan at first for the third out.
Joey Thurman started off the bottom half of the seventh with a singled to left field before Dolan drew his second intentional walk. A double steal put the runners at second and third.
The table was set for Mitchell Myers, who faced top Reno closer Liam Vivian.
After one ball, two strikes and four foul balls and#8212; and with a hundred spectators surrounding the field and#8212; all was silent for the next pitch. On a passed ball, Thurman exploded form third, and with the guts of a thief, he slid into home in the glowing night-lit dust. and#8220;Safeand#8221; was the last thing heard.
With the inspired pitching of Wildon DesLauriers, who pitched the entire game, the North Tahoe All-Stars went on to win their fourth game. They missed being chosen for the quarterfinals by 1/10 of a point.
and#8220;Throughout the tournament the team has really grown, and in the last two games come together to be a great team,and#8221; said Coach DesLauries.
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