Everything looked great for the Sparks Centennial 10/11-year-old All-Stars early on. But they saw their 5-0 lead go up in smoke and South Tahoe stormed from behind to steal a 9-7 victory.
The loss ended Sparks Centennial’s chances of advancing through the losers’ bracket to the championship game.
The Centennials grabbed the 5-0 edge by pushing across five runs in the top of the second inning.
Lincoln Turner opened the inning by one-hopping the fence in center field for a double. Nicolas Howe was hit by a pitch and both runs came home on Joey Brown’s high chopper that bounced over third base for a two-run double.
After an Evan Wambolt bunt single, Donte Smith singled in a run with his second straight single down the third-base line. Two batters later, Cameron Kygar capped the five-run rally with a two-run single.
The problem for the Centennials was they had to go to their bullpen due to pitch count limitations for starter Charles Douglas, who dominated his two innings on the mound.
Once he came out of the game before the start of the third inning, South Tahoe swung the momentum over to the other dugout.
South Tahoe got one run back in the bottom of the third when Bryan Schouten led off with a single, advanced two bases on wild pitches and came come on a throwing error by the Sparks catcher following the second wild pitch.
But it was the fourth frame that proved to be the dagger for the Centennials. South Tahoe forced the Centennials to go to three pitchers in a long inning that saw South Tahoe send 13 batters to the plate and score eight runs thanks to five hits and four Sparks errors.
Lex Merrifield, Peyton Galli, Brenden Bogue and Mat Cain all had RBI singles in the inning. Sparks also walked in a run, leaving South Tahoe in the lead 9-5.
The Centennials weren’t done. They scored two runs in the fifth, closing the gap to the final 9-7 margin.
Turner smoked his second double of the game and came home on an RBI fielder’s choice by Howe. Howe later scored when a pop-up in front of home plate was dropped by the South Tahoe catcher.
Sparks also had a good shot in the sixth to come from behind, loading the bases with one out, but it couldn’t get the clutch hit.
South Tahoe’s Bryan Catchings pitched 4 1-3 innings to pick up the win. If South Tahoe wins its next game, it will advance to the championship.
At the same time as the Centennials’ game, the Sparks National 10/11-year-olds were trying to keep their season going in a consolation bracket matchup with North Valleys.
While the Nationals only managed six hits on the night, they took advantage of several wild pitches, errors and passed balls to secure a 10-7 victory.
It was a see-saw battle at its finest.
After the Nationals scored in the bottom of the first on an error, North Valleys rallied for three runs in the top of the second, only to see Sparks National tie it up with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a wild pitch and passed ball.
North Valleys posted another three spot in the third, but the Sparks squad answered with four runs in its half of the inning.
Matthew Longland drew a walk and Braeden Goodnough, Sheldon Thomas and Jared Chute all singled in succession. All four National players scored. Chute’s single drove in a pair of runs.
Sparks National went up 10-6 with a three-run fourth inning.
Mason Homsley singled and scored on an error. Ted Kaiser recorded a base hit and was homeward bound on Goodnough’s RBI groundout. Longland walked and later touched home following a passed ball.
Longland pitched the last six innings on the mound for the Nationals. The lone run he gave up came in the sixth when he walked Josh Alvarado with the bases loaded.
Longland made a nice play for the final out, knocking down a hard shot back up the middle that scooted back behind the mound. He pounced off the hill, picked up the ball and fired to first just in time, ending the game.
The two Sparks teams could meet in the consolation bracket Thursday, but Sparks National would need to win tonight’s game at 8 p.m.
•In the 9/10-year-old tournament, Sparks Centennial had an opportunity to punch its ticket to the championship game. All it had to do was get past Little League powerhouse Washoe in one of the night games Tuesday.
However, that feat proved too difficult as Washoe routed Sparks Centennial, 13-1, in four innings.
The Centennials get another chance to advance to Friday’s championship game when they take on Reno American tonight at 8 p.m. in the losers’ bracket final.
If Sparks Centennial knocks off Reno American, it will need to beat Washoe twice to win the District 1 championship.