The Centennials, who won northern Nevada's District 1 championship two weeks ago, were humbled in their tournament opener Saturday morning, falling 17-4 to Silverado. The Las Vegas club bashed nine home runs in the lopsided mercy-rule shortened four-inning affair.
The score was 4-1 through the first two innings, but Silverado broke the game open with an eight-run explosion in the third.
"They were really good," Sparks coach Ray Charles said of Silverado. "They hit the ball better than I've seen a team hit in a while. They got hot and the next thing you know, it gets away from you."
Sparks Centennial bounced back later in the day to pull out a 5-4 victory over eastern Nevada district champion Ruby Mountain.
The Centennials trailed 4-3 after four and a half innings but rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth and held on to capture the one-run win. In the fifth, Sparks loaded the bases after a walk to Seth McGrath, Casey Burfield reached on an error and Ryan Thackaberry was hit by a pitch. Next, Christian Carlson and Dylan Husted laced RBI singles to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.
Andrew Mayse was huge for the Sparks squad. Mayse came on to pitch in relief with two outs in the third. He finished the final three and a third innings en route to earning the pitching victory. He was charged with one run but allowed only two hits and struck out five while walking two.
"Andrew came in and threw strikes," Charles said. "We were hoping we wouldn't have to use a lot of pitchers, in that first game. Little League rules say if you throw one pitch, you're done for the day. So once we got down in that first game we had to try to manipulate our way through it. For Andrew to come through and throw like he did in that second game was huge. He definitely allowed us to have some arms for tomorrow. We're excited about that."
Ruby Mountain took the early lead with a run in the top of the first inning. However, Sparks answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Carlson and Rylan Charles both singled and scored on a two-run double by Alex Padilla.
The 2-1 lead didn't last long. Ruby Mountain forged ahead 4-2 after it pushed across a trio of runs in the top of the third. Still, Sparks was unfazed. A solo homer by JT Skiver pulled the Centennials within one, 4-3, in the bottom of the third and set the stage for the local club's comeback in the fifth.
"After getting drilled like we did in the first game, to come back and play when we started off in 111 degree-heat, you just never know how the kids will handle that," Charles said. "To find a way to gut it out was good. We just had to find a way to gut it out. We really didn't play well in the first game, so it was pretty impressive for our kids to be able to pull it off in the second game."
Sparks plays again Sunday at 7 p.m.
*In other Sparks Centennial all-star action, its 11-12 year-old all-star softball team, competed in the Little League West Regional Saturday in San Bernardino, Calif.
Sparks, the Nevada state champion, dropped its tournament opener, falling in four innings after a mercy-rule defeat at the hands of Utah.
Utah responded early, posting six runs in the first inning. It was never really threatened. Utah added eight runs in the second inning and five in the fourth.
Bob Hilke was a bright spot for Sparks, collecting two of the local team's four hits in defeat.
Sparks Centennial gets in another pool play affair when it meets Hawaii Sunday at 11 a.m.