Despite being happy with earning the victory, Sparks coach Frank Avilla also had other emotions toward the win.
“It’s frustrating because that win should have come a very long time ago and a lot stronger than it did,” Avilla said. “It’s a win though and we’ll take it and we’re happy about it. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes that we had. They’re starting to realize when they make mistakes and they aren’t looking for excuses. Just to get the pressure off of us to get a win is nice.”
Incline got off to a fast start in Game 2, putting three runs on the scoreboard in the first inning. Sparks remained unfazed. Taking their first trip to the dish, the Railroaders put two runners on base with walks before Riely Regas singled in Michelle Cardenas for the home team’s first run. The scoring was just getting started for Sparks as pair of sophomores stepped to the plate. Madisyn Lock hit a single to score two more runs and Miranda Busch followed suit with a double into the right-center field gap, putting the Railroaders ahead 5-3.
The Highlanders struck right back in the top of the second inning, capitalizing on a number of Sparks errors and using base hits to score six runs, capped by a two-RBI single from Kortney Solis to retake the lead at 9-5.
“They jumped out on us because we were impatient,” Avilla said. “Nothing against them, but with their pitching they’re struggling. We just didn’t have discipline. We tried too hard. We were looking for our first win so anytime you’re doing that, I can understand their anxiousness. Then we calmed down. The balls would look like watermelons to them so they would want to hit them. When we stay disciplined in our zone, we start doing damage. We have to shore up our errors on the field though. Today as a team, we clicked. We picked each other up and we ran the bases properly. Hopefully things start clicking now.”
Gaining some patience at the plate, Sparks countered in the bottom half of the second, delivering a 21-run knockout punch to the visitors. The frame saw five different Highlanders take the circle as the pitchers struggled to find the strike zone. Two batters were hit and 15 others were walked while the Railroaders batted through their lineup three times. The second inning mercilessly ended for Incline with Sparks holding a 26-9 lead.
Incline attempted to make a comeback, but the hole it dug itself proved too daunting a task. The Highlanders scored four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a two-run shot over the left-field fence from senior Grace Dolan, bringing the deficit to 26-13. Incline added another run the next inning on a double by Elise Nelson, but from there the scoring fell silent for both squads as the Maroon and Gold held on for its first win of the young season.
“We gave them four runs back and we can’t do that,” Avilla said. “We were overly excited. We held them off though and that’s the mark of a good team. You have to do something to stay focused. We’re starting to learn the game though, and they’re wanting to. So that’s a big plus. I think we can get over the hump this year. I think we’ll compete for the league, I really do. I’m hoping we can.”
In the first contest of the day, Sparks dropped the game 16-10 behind a strong sixth frame on the part of the Highlanders.
Incline took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and extended its advantage to 5-0 on a double off the bat of Dolan. Two more Highlander runs were added to the scoreboard in the third inning, give the away team a 7-0 edge.
The Maroon and Gold quickly erased the work that Incline had done over the first three innings. Pushing three runners across the plate in the bottom of the fourth, the Railroaders tacked four more runs on with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 7-7. The draw would not last long however, as Incline scattered balls all over the outfield the next half-inning, putting a nine-spot on the board and taking a 16-7 lead.
Sparks attempted to tie the game yet again, but only managed to score two runs in the sixth and another in the seventh, resulting in the 16-10 final.
Freshman pitcher Jocelyn Vasquez took the circle for the entirety of both games for Sparks, earning the split decisions.
Sparks (1-4 overall, 1-1 MRL) will return to the diamond to face Mount Rose foe South Tahoe on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.