ELKO – Blink and someone would have missed it.
The Elko baseball team racked up 11 runs in the first inning Friday and cruised to a 16-0 victory Friday over winless Sparks in a contest that took less than an hour to complete.
In the brief ballgame, Elko junior pitcher Kaleb Martinez notched a no-hitter, finishing one walk away from a perfect game.
Sparks’ only baserunner of the contest came from a walk by Andrew Harrison with one out in the top of the first inning, but the Indians immediately ended the frame with a 6-4-3 double play by senior shortstop Gavin Byington to junior second baseman Austyn Marin over to senior first baseman Kamren Backherms.
In the bottom half, junior Cooper Jones led off with a single and advanced to third base when senior Ryan Wickersham reached on an error.
Both runners scored on a two-RBI double by Backherms to center field, followed by a walk to Martinez.
Elko jumped out to a 4-0 lead when Backherms scored on a passed ball and junior courtesy runner Landon Dente strolled home on a single by junior Carter Alvarado.
A groundout provided the second out of the frame, but the Indians kept their collective foot down for seven more runs.
Alvarado scored on an error from a grounder by senior Julian Loera, and a base knock by Marin drove in Loera for a 6-0 lead.
Jones came back around and singled to left field, a grounder the opposite way to right field by Byington sending Marin back across the plate.
The Indians cashed in a run on a double steal, Jones taking home as Byington went for second.
Wickersham pushed the advantage to 9-0 with a double to opposite field – driving in Byington – and the Indians went up double digits when Wickersham crossed the dish on an RBI single by Backherms up the middle.
Martinez reached on an error, and junior Kohl McIntosh plated the final run of the frame with a fly ball to center field that scored Backherms.
Sparks went down one-two-three in the top of the second, Martinez retiring the final two batters with swinging strikes.
The Indians did all their damage in the bottom of the second with two outs, making a five-run rally.
With the bases loaded on a single from junior Christian Quintana and consecutive walks to Byington and junior Brycen Kelly with one out, junior Jacob Kath drew a bases-juiced free pass with two outs and sent Quintana home.
Byington scored on a passed ball, and McIntosh drove in Kelly and Kath with a two-run triple to center field for a 15-0 lead.
Senior Antawn Valtierra got in the mix and scored McIntosh from third with a single on the ground up the middle.
The Railroaders fell in order in the top of the third, Martinez striking out the first two batters and using a lineout to sophomore shortstop Colby Tiner to complete a no-hitter.
Elko rolled to a 16-0 victory with the margin at 15-plus runs within the third inning.
McIntosh and Backherms tied for the game high with three RBIs each, Backherms going 2-for-2 with a double and McIntosh finishing 2-for-2 with the game’s only triple.
Jones also hit 2-for-2 and tied for the game-high with two runs scored, matching the number of runs for Wickersham, Backherms and Byington.
Martinez completed his no-hitter in three innings, striking out four batters and walking one.
“It was good to get different kids into the game and build our depth. We are going to need everyone to contribute in the postseason, especially our pitchers,” said Elko coach Shane Gilligan. “I really respect Sparks; they have a great group of kids and a great coach. I was in a similar situation when I coached at Hug. We get caught up in wins and losses, but the game of baseball teaches kids a lot about life – working hard, respect, teamwork, perseverance, overcoming adversity. They have four or five kids who have never played baseball before, and I respect their willingness to put it on the line and compete. They’re doing the best they can, instead of making bad choices and getting in trouble.”
The Indians (10-1 in league) will wrap up the three-game series with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at Upper Kump Field.