After cruising to an 8-0 win in the first game, the Railroaders finished off their pair of victories with a come-from-behind 6-4 win that was capped off by a two-run walk off homerun from senior James McCarty in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Sparks head coach Greg Vasko said he was pleased with the effort from his team.
“They never gave up. They just kept on going,” Vasko said. “Incline had bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning with no outs and I don’t know what happened. We just played good defense and somehow got out of it. I still don’t know what to say.”
The game was knotted at 1-1 after an RBI from Sparks’ Brandon Harris and a home run from Incline’s Tommy Dolan in the first inning. The Highlanders broke the tie with three runs in the top of the third inning to build a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Railroaders began to chip away at the deficit. A dropped fly ball scored Kody McClelland before a sac fly from Casey Carter plated Harris, bringing the score to 4-3.
Both pitchers made quick work of the batters over the next three half innings, allowing the Maroon and Gold to tie the game up at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI single from junior Jared Longland that sent Harris home.
Over the next two innings, the batters remained futile at the plate as just one hit was managed, sending the game into extra innings.
Two walks and a single loaded the sacs for the Highlanders to start the eighth inning, but Sparks pitcher Longland managed to get out of the jam unscathed. A fly out to center would have given Incline the go-ahead run, but the runner from third left the base too soon, allowing the Railroaders to protest the run and double-up the runner at third. Longland then struck out the final batter to end the inning.
A leadoff walk to Quinn Lightfoot put the winning run on the base paths for the Maroon and Gold, but it wouldn’t be needed as McCarty drove a ball deep over the left-field wall to end the game.
Vasko said that he was thrilled to see the ball fly off of McCarty’s bat.
“I was excited. I was excited for our team to get the win and I was excited for James. I’m still kind of speechless right now. It’s just exciting,” Vasko said.
Longland pitched the whole game, tossing eight innings with five walks and 14 strikeouts for the win.
Incline’s Dolan threw seven innings, striking out eight and walking six. Kyle Clouthier came on in relief after the eighth inning walk, taking the loss on the walk-off dinger.
McCarty finished the game 1-for-2 with the game winner. Teammate L.B. Rose went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
In the first match, Sparks took an early 1-0 edge in the second inning on a double off the bat of McCarty that scored Carter.
The Railroaders then pushed their lead with a huge third inning when they exploded for six runs, leaving the scoreboard reading 7-0. A leadoff double from Keiffer Putman set up McClelland for an RBI. After a walk to Rose, Longland sent Putman home with a single before Carter plated two with a double that bounced over the left fielder. Lightfoot then took a walk, allowing McCarty to add to his damage yet again, scoring two more with a double to the left-center field gap.
The host added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth, resulting in the 8-0 final.
Putman went the distance in the game for the Railroaders, tossing all seven innings with nine strikeouts and two walks for the shutout victory.
“Keiffer Putman pitched an outstanding game,” Vasko said. “He was controlling his pitches and he only gave two hits the whole game with nine Ks. He had really good command the whole game with his off-speed pitches, he just pitched really well.”
Junior Cam Powell pitched four innings for Incline, striking out four and walking five, while giving up seven runs. Clouthier threw the last two innings for the Highlanders, striking out one.
Carter led the Railroaders in hitting, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs. McCarty and Longland went 2-for-3 in the first game, with McCarty tallying two doubles and three RBI and Longland recording an RBI. Along with the win on the mound, Putman was 2-for-4 at the dish as well.
Sparks (4-1 overall, 2-0 MRL) will welcome South Tahoe to its field on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.