With each team’s No. 1 starter overpowering opposing hitters, Saturday’s doubleheader opener between the Truckee and Fernley high baseball teams came down to small-ball execution ” just the way coach Mike Ellis and his Wolverines like it.
Truckee senior Keven Sahlberg struck out 13 in a complete game two-hitter and Wolverines scored two runs on a double squeeze play to beat the visiting Vaqueros 3-2 in Game 1.
“Sahlberg pitched great,” Ellis said. “He was lights out.”
Fernley senior Brian Bradley was nearly as good, allowing only two hits himself while walking four and recording seven strikeouts.
“I knew it would be a one-run game from the start,” said Ellis, whose team has won six straight league games. “That Bradley pitcher is good. I was hoping we wouldn’t lose 2-1.”
Sahlberg, who also issued four walks, boosted his record to 5-0 in Northern 3A league play with two saves. After winning the second game 10-8 on Saturday, Truckee improved to 9-6 in league with three games remaining ” all against Yerington. Fernley fell to 2-10 in league.
Both pitchers were dealing from the start, with Sahlberg striking out the side in the top of the first and Bradley recording a 1-2-3 first inning with two Ks.
The key play of the game came in the third with the Wolverines trailing 2-1.
Following a Pablo Esquivel walk and a Texas-league base hit off the bat of Kevin Decker, both runners advanced on steals to reach second and third with one out. Ellis then called for the bunt with Justin Vosburgh at the plate.
Vosburgh laid down the bunt perfectly, and Esquivel motored in from third to score. As the throw went to first, Decker rounded third aggressively and without hesitation to score easily on the play.
“That double squeeze was great,” Ellis said. “Vosburgh put it down and Decker was key to it, coming around to score. Decker is a good base runner.”
Truckee nearly scored on another squeeze play in the fourth, but the Vaqueros tagged out the runner at the plate.
Sahlberg helped his cause by single-handedly manufacturing the first run in the second inning. After drawing a walk, he stole second and advanced to third on an error, then raced home on a wild pitch to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Vaqueros answered with two runs in the third when Bradley stroked an RBI double to the right-center gap and then scored on a Truckee error to take a 2-1 lead.
Other than Truckee’s third-inning small-ball rally, Bradley remained in control, allowing only Decker and Vosburgh to reach base by way of a hit. Both he and Sahlberg had good velocity on their fastballs, and both kept hitters off balance with effective breaking balls. Zack Carrick had Fernley’s only other hit ” a single between the right side of the infield in the sixth.
The Wolverines won Game 2 by a score of 10-8.
Sophomore Brady Maclane earned the win, pitching six innings before Sahlberg came in to save the game in the bottom of the seventh. Maclane had seven strikeouts and four walks while allowing seven hits and eight runs. Sahlberg had a walk and a strikeout in his one inning.
Offensively, Esquivel, Vosburgh and Sahlberg each went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, and Michael Fagan was 2 for 3 with one RBI. John DePew went 1 for 3.
Truckee closes league play with three games against Yerington. The teams meet for a game at Yerington on Wednesday and a doubleheader at Truckee on Saturday.
The Wolverines play a nonleague game at South Tahoe on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
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