Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
After holding onto the early league lead with a 1-0 win at Fallon Tuesday, the Fernley High School baseball team will put their 4-0 Northern 3A League record on the line this weekend at Dayton.
The Vaqueros are scheduled to play a single game Friday at 3 p.m. and a doubleheader Saturday at 11 a.m. at Dayton, which is sixth in the league with a 3-3 record.
At 4-0, the Vaqueros are the only league team without a loss, while only Truckee is winless. Six teams are within two games of each other in the standings, ranging from second to seventh place.
Against Fallon, Brandon Hlade, Zach Burns and Jay King combined on a 1-hit shutout, making a single fourth inning run stand up.
“It was a good test for us and a good stepping stone to prepare for Dayton,” coach Jerry Torres said.
The Vaqueros got their run in the top of the fourth when Josh Kirk hit a two-strike single up the middle, then scored when Drake Howe lined a shot in the gap on a run-and-hit play, where Howe had the option to swing as Kirk attempted to steal second base.
The Vaqueros came up empty in two other scoring chances, hitting into a double play with runners on first and second, and another time leaving the bases loaded.
Fallon’s best chance came when the Vaqueros put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Sam Ramirez flagged down a line drive by Fallon’s Jack Swisher.
“I was pleased that we came off he bye having as much energy as we did,” Torres said. “We made one more play than they did, and that’s what happened. It could have gone either way.”
The Vaqueros split the pitching duties among three pitchers because of this season’s new pitch count rule, which limits pitchers to 145 pitches in a 5-day period. The rule also limits pitchers to 110 pitches in a single day, and has already resulted in a forfeit, with Sparks forfeiting a game last Saturday because a pitcher exceeded the pitch limit.
“I don’t throw my pitchers that many pitches, anyway,” Torres said.
The pitch limit may have been why the Vaqueros didn’t face Fallon’s top pitcher, Alex Mendez.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best, player in our league,” Torres said. “Every time we play them I get excited to see Alex, because for me, I like seeing good players.”
Torres is also excited to face Dayton, saying he has a ton of respect for Dayton coach Mike Burrows.
“Mike has a good thing going,” Torres said. “They’re very skilled, highly competitive and motivated.
*With a bye in the league schedule last week, the Vaqueros hosted their annual alumni game fundraiser Saturday afternoon, with former players and parents of current players participating. Tom Jameson, the son of pitching coach Rich Jameson, who starred at Reno High School and the University of Nevada, was the keynote speaker at the alumni dinner that night.
*Dayton won two of three games last week against Spring Creek, sweeping a doubleheader Saturday, 7-0 and 16-1, after losing Friday’s game 15-2.
* Under the new pitch count rules, Torres said the coaches have agreed to verify their pitch counts with each other between innings.