The only consolation after Tuesday night’s 13-3 loss to Truckee in four innings is that the Nationals will play another day.
“I’m at least hoping we can showcase the kids’ talent,” Sparks National 12-year-olds manager Eliseo Montenegro said. “We have to get out of this temperament of Sparks National being a losing atmosphere. It’s something we as a community need to shake off within our baseball team. It’s hard to battle.”
Truckee started the game aggressive at the plate, with the first two batters swinging at the first pitch they saw from Sparks National pitcher Matt Longland. From the No. 2 hole, Gary Grosjean went opposite field and two-hopped the fence in right field for a one-out triple. He made it a 1-0 game when he scored on a wild pitch.
The one-run edge was short-lived.
Longland, Sparks’ clean-up hitter, drew a walk to start the top of the second inning. He moved up to scoring position thanks to a wild pitch.
Jacob White crushed a 1-1 pitch to the right-center field gap. White’s shot one-hopped the fence and drove in Longland, but White tried to stretch his double into a triple and was thrown out at third. Still, the Nationals were able to knot the score at 1-1.
However, Longland got into some trouble on the mound in the bottom half of the second. He hit the first batter of the inning, walked the second and then couldn’t field a comebacker cleanly which loaded the bases with no outs.
After recording a strikeout for the first out, the top of the order came back up for Truckee. Connor Bullion lifted a fly ball to right that went off the top of the right fielder’s glove, allowing a run to score. On the same play, baserunner Dawson Smith was dead to rights at the plate, but his slide knocked the ball free from the catcher’s mitt, making it a 3-1 ballgame.
Grosjean proved his first-inning triple was no fluke by peppering the fence in right-center field with a two-run double. The throw to home was off the mark and Grosjean hustled around third and circled the sacks, increasing the lead to 6-1.
With two outs and the count full, clean-up hitter Cooper Deyrk tattooed a no-doubter over the left-center field fence for a solo homer and a 7-1 Truckee lead. Truckee scored six runs on just two hits in the rally.
In the bottom of the third, Max Wingard’s line drive single to center field off reliever Jacob White knocked in a pair of runs with two outs, giving Truckee a 9-1 advantage.
Deyrk followed with a bloop single to shallow center field and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, allowing them to score when Jaydan Commendatore ripped a hard grounder that got through the second baseman’s backhand attempt. That set up the potential for the 10-run mercy rule as Truckee went into the top of the fourth leading 11-1.
Sparks National tried to stay alive in the fourth frame and benefited from some poor defense. Four errors within the first two batters of the inning led to both runners scoring, cutting the deficit to 11-3. But that only left Sparks National on temporary life support.
It was temporary because Truckee went out and scored a run on a David Dalicandro RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth. And despite looking like that would be the only run of the inning after Delicandro was later thrown out at the plate for the second out, Truckee sent everyone home early after Bullion scored on a passed ball when Wingard was down to his final strike.
“It’s a little frustrating. We came into this thing thinking our defense would hold up,” Montenegro said. “The kids here from top to bottom are competitors. If you don’t make the plays, they will take it to you. It’s disappointing not being able to showcase the talent we thought we had coming into this. There’s always next year.”
Bullion, Grosjean and Deyrk each had two hits in the winning cause.
Sparks National gets one last chance to win a game when it takes the field at 8 p.m. tonight in the consolation bracket.