Four years have come and gone since the Truckee High baseball team last played into the postseason. Fast forward to May 9, 2008, and nearly two weeks have elapsed since the playoff-bound Wolverines last played a game.
“We’ve had a lot of downtime, but we’re confident,” said Truckee head coach Mike Ellis, whose Wolverines earned the No. 3 seed and homefield advantage in the Northern 3A postseason tournament.
“I’m just hoping our bats get going,” the coach added. “The second half of the season we won on pitching and defense ” and small ball. We’re not pummeling the ball like we should be.”
Despite the recent dearth of pop ” Truckee has just seven home runs, Ellis said ” the Wolverines ended the regular season with nine straight league wins to finish at 12-6.
Their first-round opponent, fourth-seeded Sparks (10-8), struggled through the final stretch of the season, losing six straight before winning its last game against Fernley this past Saturday. The Railroaders’ losing steak came after 10 consecutive wins mid-season.
“A lot of people have asked me about the streaks,” said first-year head coach Greg Vasko. “I couldn’t tell you (the reason). We didn’t do anything different other than losing those games.”
When Truckee and Sparks met for a three-game series the week of March 15, three runs decided the outcome of each contest. Sparks won Games 1 and 3 by scores of 8-5 and 5-2, and Truckee took the second game 6-3.
Both coaches think the best-of-three playoff series set for Friday and Saturday should be evenly matched.
“I think they’re a good ball team,” Vasko said of the Wolverines. “They have a lot of speed and some pitchers who can throw. I think it’ll be a real tight competition up there. We’d like to have it at our place, obviously, but you deal with the cards you’re dealt.”
Vasko has never taken his team to Truckee, as the one regular-season game in March that the Wolverines were scheduled to host was played at Governor’s Bowl in Reno due to snow.
“I hope so. It should be huge,” Ellis said of hosting the series.
The Wolverines will rely largely on their two pitching aces, senior Keven Sahlberg and junior Justin Vosburgh, both right-handers.
Sahlberg, who leads the team with a .397 batting average, finished the regular season 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 44 innings. Vosburgh, who came on strong the second half of the season, is 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 innings.
The Railroaders also have two aces, junior left-hander Danny Monroe and senior Aaron Quilici, a right-hander. Monroe, Sparks’ No. 1 starter, Vasko said, is 7-3 on the season. He has an ERA of 3.39 with 68 strikeouts in 64 innings. Quilici, who leads his team with 29 stolen bases, is 5-3 with a 3.65 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 46 innings.
Vasko said no player in particular stands out as the team stud.
“All of our guys are relatively even as far as ability to play. We don’t have any shining stars,” he said. “I’d say we’re a pretty diverse team. We don’t have a whole lot of speed or power, just a bunch of kids who like to play baseball.”
Sparks had eight home runs to Truckee’s seven during the regular season ” four from Chris Haun, two from Quilici and one apiece from Jake Kozlowski and Nick Posey.
Sahlberg leads the Wolverines with three homers. He’s followed by Kevin Decker with two and Pablo Esquivel and Michael Taylor with one apiece.
Truckee holds the advantage in the stolen base department, swiping 171 bags on 182 attempts ” a Nevada state record, Ellis said. Four players have 30 or more stolen bases ” Sahlberg, Vosburgh, Esquivel and Decker.
Sparks has 77 stolen bases.
“I’m looking forward to some good games,” Vasko said. “It should be fun. Our guys want to win just like Truckee.”
The Wolverines host a best-of-three series with Sparks on Friday and Saturday at the high school baseball field. Friday’s game starts at 3:30 p.m. Game 2 will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday and, if necessary, a third game at 1 p.m. the same day.
Northern 3A tournament
Series A: Fernley (No. 6 seed) at Spring Creek (No. 1 seed), 3:30 p.m.
Series B: Lowry (No;. 5 seed) at Dayton (No. 2 seed), 3:30 p.m.
Series C: Sparks (No. 4 seed) at Truckee (No. 3 seed), 3:30 p.m.
Series A, B, C: Games 2, 10 a.m.
Series A, B, C: Games 3 ((If necessary), 1 p.m.
State Championship tournament
The three winning teams from the Northern 3A and one from the Southern 3A advance to the NIAA Class 3A Championship. The tournament will be held at both Western Nevada Community College and University of Nevada, Reno, on May 16-17.
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