Down 6-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Truckee began its comeback rally.
Junior Andy McKechnie started things off for the hosts with a single, which was followed by a double from senior Ryan Smith. Junior Erik Holmer then stepped to the dish and delivered a single to left field to plate Smith and cut the Sparks lead to a run. After a steal put a the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, senior Luke Theis sent a shot into right field that brought both runners home and gave the Wolverines the 7-6 advantage.
Sparks attempted to generate offense in its last at-bats of the seventh inning, but fell short with runners on second and third.
“It was a tough loss,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said. “They’re a good team and we’re just as good as they are. We battled the whole game. We had the go-ahead run on second base at the end of the game and you can’t ask for anything better than that. They’re a good team and they battled just as much as we battled. It was a fight. That’s how it should be when two first-place teams fight it out. That’s baseball. It was a great game to see. Our kids have their heads held up.”
After an initial run from Truckee in the bottom of the first frame opened the scoring and gave the hosts a 1-0 lead, the Railroaders grabbed the lead with a five-spot in the top of the third.
A pair of walks to seniors Kody McClleland and Quinn Lightfoot started the inning before a groundball from Keiffer Putman bounced off the glove of the Wolverines’ pitcher Steve Baker and loaded the bases. Brandon Harris then took a free pass, forcing McClleland home. Senior L.B. Rose then dug into the batter’s box and lined a two-bagger over the head of the shortstop to plate Lightfoot and Putman for a 3-1 Railroaders advantage. A grounder through the shortstop off the bat of Jared Longland scored Harris before Rose touched home on a fielder’s choice, leaving the scoreboard reading 5-1 in favor of the visitors.
From there, the Wolverines slowly chipped away at the deficit. A run crossed the plate on an errant throw in the third before Truckee (21-5, 10-0 MRL) tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to bring the score to 5-4. Sparks added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single from Lightfoot to make the score 6-4 before the Wolverines’ dramatics in the bottom of the sixth frame.
Longland went the distance on the mound for the Railroaders, tossing six innings of work with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Sparks (14-6, 8-2 MRL) will look to take the second tilt of the series when the teams face off at Sparks High on Friday at 4:00 p.m.
“We’re just going to continue what we’ve been doing,” Vasko said. “It was a tough loss but we’re going to keep our heads up and be positive and we’re going to work hard. You just have to take one game at a time. You can’t look past your next game and all the way into the future. We just have to take it one game at a time. I want to play Friday’s game right now. We’re ready.”
- SOFTBALL -
The Sparks softball team traveled to Truckee on Wednesday afternoon and suffered a 15-5 defeat at the hands of the Wolverines.
While the Mount Rose leading Wolverines did plenty of damage on their own, Sparks did not help its cause either. Sparks stranded 11 runners on the base paths, including leaving the bases loaded on two separate occasions along with leaving runners on second and third in back-to-back innings. Five errors contributed to six Truckee runs en route to the Wolverines earning just seven of their 15 runs.
“We jumped out on them 2-0 and then they came back and we certainly helped them out,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “We didn’t have any discipline today.”
After the Railroaders took a 2-0 lead in its first trip to the dish, Truckee responded with six runs in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 6-2 edge. Both squads tacked on a run in the second inning followed by a pair of runs in the top of the third frame for Sparks to bring the score to 7-5. The two-run deficit would be the closest the Railroaders would get as Truckee (12-1, 11-1 MRL) pushed four across the plate in the fourth inning, another in the fifth and three more in the sixth for the mercy-ruled victory.
Sparks (4-14, 3-7 MRL) will play in the Lassen Tournament in Susanville, Calif. starting Friday before closing out its season on Tuesday with a doubleheader at home set for 3:00 p.m.
“We want to wrap up our season on Tuesday with a good, positive light to get us started for next year,” Avilla said. We need to remain focused for seven innings. “We keep striving for that. We’re a work in progress and we know that. We’re going to continue to keep working hard. They just need to focus and go and believe in themselves.”