The losing skid was extended to six in the first game of Sparks’ 3A North League twin bill against Fernley. However, the Rail City school salvaged a split by winning Game 2 end and taking a victory in its regular season finale.
Fernley won a pitchers’ duel in Game 1, prevailing 2-1. Sparks exploded at the plate in Game 2 and rolled to a 19-9 triumph.
“It was nice to win. It was very important for these guys. I’m excited for the win,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said.
Sparks faced a 6-1 deficit after the top of the second inning, but that’s as good as Game 2 got for Fernley. The Railroaders pushed across seven runs in the bottom of inning two and never trailed again.
Kent Orta and Joe Puccinelli had singles in the big inning but those were the only Railroader knocks of the frame. Sparks took advantage of a walk, hit batter and four Fernley errors to do its second-inning damage.
It got worse for Fernley. The seven-run rally was not even Sparks’ best inning. The Railroaders added 11 more runs in the second inning, extending their edge to 19-6 after three innings.
“We started hitting the ball like we are capable of,” Vasko said. “We didn’t do anything different than we’ve done all year (for Game 2). Something just happened and we started to hit the ball.”
Orta had a two-run double and Andrew Garcia laced a two-run single in the third inning. Chris Haun and Nic Posey added run-scoring singles in the explosion.
“We were really due,” Sparks senior Aaron Quilici said. “The last couple games have been one and two run games. We had to pull it together and stop leaving people on base. We finally got some solid hits.”
Haun picked up the win on the hill in Game 2 for Sparks. He came on with one out in the second inning and got the final out after Fernley had already pushed across five runs. He went the rest of the way, working 3 2-3 innings. Haun limited the visiting Vaqueros to three runs, all unearned, and fours hits while striking out three and walking just one.
The opener was a much different story. Both teams were looking for any offense they could find. Fernley’s Brian Bradley and Sparks’ Danny Monroe mowed down opposing hitters.
Bradley collected the victory. He went all seven innings, holding Sparks to just two hits. Bradley overcame six walks by whiffing 11.
Monroe also tossed a complete game. Just one of the Vaqueros’ two runs was earned. Monroe scattered seven hits. He struck out four and did not give up a walk.
Fernley scored the winning run in Game 1 with a score in the top of the seventh inning. Jace Gledhill singled, stole second and scored on a Zack Carrick single.
Fernley took the early 1-0 lead in Saturday’s first game with a score in the top of the first inning. Neil Kendricks reached on an error and scored when Bradley helped his own cause with an RBI double.
Sparks pulled into a 1-1 tie with its only run of the game in the bottom of the third. Garcia got to first safely after Fernley committed its lone of error of the game. After walks to Quilici and Monroe loaded the bases, a passed ball allowed Garcia to cross the plate.
Sparks will be the 3A North’s fourth playoff seed and will travel to Truckee for its playoff opener Friday at 3:30 p.m. The two teams will meet in a best two-of-three series with the winner earning a berth in the 3A state tournament May 16-17.
“This was big for us. We’d been on a losing streak and we needed a good solid win,” Quilici said, alluding to the Game 2 triumph. “We needed a win to show Fernley we were a good team and to get us ready for the playoffs.
“I’m very, very happy right now. It’s been tough the last couple years in baseball because the season’s been done today. “It’s great that we’ve extended it and get to move on.”