Three days after launching a walk-off two-run shot to cap a doubleheader sweep over Incline, McCarty’s infield single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, handed the Railroaders a come-from-behind 8-7 home triumph over South Tahoe Tuesday.
Sparks trailed by as much as 7-3, but went into the final inning tied at 7-7.
Jared Longland opened the bottom of the seventh with a hard grounder up the middle that took a bad hop over South Tahoe second baseman Bobby Oaks’ backhand attempt.
Casey Carter followed Longland’s single when he went low and connected on a Sheldon Skylar curveball, driving a line drive single to shallow center field.
Still with no outs, Quinn Lightfoot dropped down a perfectly-placed bunt on the third-base side. However, no one covered first and Lightfoot loaded the bases with his single.
With the infield drawn in to make a play at the plate, McCarty stepped into the batter’s box and hit a hard grounder between short and third. Shortstop Derek Clelan was able to dive and knock down the ball, but he had no play anywhere and Longland scored the game-winning run.
“South Tahoe is a very good team. They play small ball very well. They have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a close game, and I’m sure the next couple will be, too,” Sparks assistant baseball coach Dave Tallent said. “Both sides did a good job. I’m proud of these kids. They hung in there. Things kind of got out of hand at first, but we hung in there, kept our composure and came out on top.”
The Vikings got on the board in the first inning. Clelan hit a laser up the middle for a single. South Tahoe loaded the bases with one out but only managed a lone run on a wild pitch. Sparks starting pitcher Brandon Harris recorded back-to-back strikeouts to escape the first inning with only one run of damage.
The Railroaders rallied for a trio of runs in the bottom half of the first. Kody McClelland started things off with a triple to the left-center field gap. Harris drove him home with a single through the right side of the infield. Harris advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt at first.
An L.B. Rose infield single put runners on the corners and allowed Harris to score the go-ahead run on Longland’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Rose rumbled all the way home from first when Carter smoked a one-hopper over Oaks’ glove at second and rolled all the way to the fence for an RBI double and a 3-1 lead.
Considering how the top of the first ended, the second inning felt like an aberration for Harris on the mound. Harris saw his day end after walking the first five batters of the top of the second.
McClelland took over mound duties and struggled initially, walking the first batter he faced to force in the third run of the inning.
By the end of the second, South Tahoe pushed across six runs on only one hit. That one hit came off the bat of Dominick Diana, who bunted with two strikes and earned an RBI on the squeeze play.
The Vikings took a 7-3 edge after the long inning, but were held hitless over the final five innings. McClelland finished with nine strikeouts and one walk over his six-inning relief stint. He gave his team a chance to make its comeback.
In the bottom of the third, Rose led off with a double just inside the left-field line. Two batters later, it was a 7-4 game thanks to a Carter sac fly.
Sparks completed its comeback in the bottom of the fifth frame when South Tahoe starting pitcher Colton Marcheseault couldn’t get out of the inning.
Longland and Carter ignited the rally with consecutive base hits. A walk loaded the bases and an RBI fielder’s choice allowed Longland to come home. A double steal with runners on first and third cut Sparks’ deficit to 7-6. The tying run scored on an error.
Carter led the Maroon and Gold with three hits, the same hit total for South Tahoe’s entire squad. McClelland, Rose and Longland each added two hits.
Sparks (5-1, 3-0 Mount Rose League) will take on Whittell in a doubleheader Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.
South Tahoe 22, Sparks 11
Railroader pitchers only allowed six hits to the Vikings, but 16 errors never gave Sparks a chance in the Mount Rose League meeting Tuesday.
South Tahoe jumped out to a 10-2 lead after an inning and a half, but the hosts didn’t quit.
Sparks got to within two runs, 10-8, after scoring two in the second and four in the third. However, the Vikings’ third five spot of the game was all they needed. South Tahoe added seven runs in the sixth to institute the 10-run mercy rule. Only six of the 22 runs were earned.
Sparks freshman Jocelyn Vasquez was solid in the circle. She worked 5 2-3 innings, striking out six and walking three. She was also effective at the plate, scoring three runs and recording a double.
Madisyn Lock led the way for the Railroaders offensively. She was a perfect 3-for-3 with four RBI. Michelle Cardenas also scored three runs after drawing a trio of base on balls.
“They competed well as far as coming up and being patient. Out of the nine starters, we had seven sho stayed disciplined. It’s only a matter of time the other two learn the game, so they can be disciplined,” Sparks softball coach Frank Avilla said. “They’re working hard. We’ve got to shore our errors up, but they were aggressive errors. Aggressive errors I can live with as long as they keep trying hard. AS long as they keep trying, it’s going to come.”
Sparks (1-5, 1-2 MRL) is at Hug Thursday and has a doubleheader in Gardnerville against Whittell Saturday.