A South Tahoe upset of Central Valley gave the school from the lake a berth in the AU Invitational championship game against Spanish Springs. However, it looked like the Vikings ran out of gas as they were saddled with a 19-4 shellacking by tourney host Spanish Springs.
“Spanish Springs is a very, very good baseball team, the best hitting team we’ve seen this year,” South Tahoe coach Dom Amaral said. “We couldn’t get them off balance with anything. They just hammered the ball.”
South Tahoe did get off to a good start. The Vikings rapped out three hits and jumped on Spanish Springs ace right-hander Jake Bray for a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Ricky Braun and Rigel Garman both singled and scored on a Max DeLallos two-run single.
That’s as good as it got for the guests. Spanish Springs had a quick response, pushing across a trio of runs in its half of the first. Bray walked, Tanner Oates doubled and the duo scored on Humberto Espinoza’s double off the center-field wall. Espinoza came home on a Davis Murphy single.
South Tahoe knotted the score at 3-3 when Rylan Tepper led off the second and doubled. He circled the sacks after a pair of wild pitches. Bray then retired the next three Vikings and Spanish Springs proceeded to jump on the momentum train.
The Cougars, who finished with 15 hits and eight for extra bases, got six runs in the second inning and blew the game wide open with 10 runs in the third.
Spanish Springs had six hits in its half of the second. Bray and Taylor Freshman blasted home runs. Brandon Mathis drilled a blast to center and rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Oates and Anthony Vierra chipped in with doubles to the second-inning outburst.
It got worse for South Tahoe (6-15) in the third. Spanish Springs (17-4) sent 14 hitters to the plate in its double-digit rally. Bray crushed his second dinger of the day and Vierra had a triple, but the Cougars also got some help in the form of three walks, a hit batsman and a triumvirate of Vikings errors.
After the rough first inning, Bray settled down on the hill for Spanish Springs. He picked up the pitching win after tossing four innings. He struck out five and walked one.
“I thought he was pressing a little bit early and give South Tahoe credit. They came out swinging,” Spanish Springs coach Mike Bosco said of his starting pitcher. “I thought he was trying to throw a little too hard and really snap off the curveball sharp. But then he found a rhythm.”
The Spanish Springs offense was potent and then some during the three-day tournament. The Cougars racked up 67 runs in four games.
“Our pitchers definitely got run support,” Bosco said. “You don’t have to coach a whole lot when the kids put the ball in play like that. You just show up and watch the fireworks go off.
“We don’t do that all the time, but at times we (coaches) just sit back and smile. And it’s not just our main guys. I’m not sure other teams have the depth we do. We’ve got a lot of guys contributing.”
Spanish Springs has a bye from High Desert League play next week but will still get in a non-league three-game series. The Cougars will go to Carson for a single game Thursday at 7 p.m. and host the Senators for a twin bill next Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.