South Tahoe, Truckee make history, complete first high-school game at Aces Ballpark
RENO and#8212; Awesome. Fantastic. Surreal.
Those were a just few of the words players and fans used to sum up Monday’s Truckee-South Tahoe baseball game at Aces Ballpark and#8212; home of the Triple-A Reno Aces.
and#8220;This is awesome,and#8221; said Ron Curtis, a longtime Truckee wrestling coach who attended the game. and#8220;It’s my first time seeing the stadium, so I’m excited to be here. But for the kids, to get on a field like this, it must be like a dream for them.and#8221;
It was, said Truckee head coach Mike Ellis, who had the Wolverines’ junior varsity and freshmen teams dress out and join their varsity cohorts in the spacious first-base dugout.
and#8220;It was surreal. They were diggin’ it,and#8221; Ellis said of his players. and#8220;They were having a blast. It was pretty special.and#8221;
The game itself was pretty good, too, as the Wolverines treated their sizable hometown crowd and#8212; at least 100 strong by the time they all trickled in and#8212; to an exciting, 11-8 win in extra innings.
and#8220;It was awesome, I have to say. I haven’t even seen a game here yet, and to then play a game here, it was amazing,and#8221; said Truckee junior catcher/pitcher James DePew. and#8220;The crowd was great, and it was great to come out with a win.and#8221;
The nonleague contest marked the first game ever played by two high school teams at Aces Ballpark, which opened in 2009. And what a sweet deal it was for both ballclubs.
Ellis got the idea from the Sacramento River Cats, a Triple-A team that occasionally allows high school squads in the Sacramento area to play at its ballpark, Raley Field.
and#8220;Last year they mentioned it at a coaches’ meeting, that we could do it the same way (at Aces Ballpark) as they do at Raley Field in Sacramento,and#8221; Ellis recalled. and#8220;I said, and#8216;I’m all over that.’ So I called the Aces and asked what I needed to do, and they told me.and#8221;
The deal was for each team to sell 500 Aces tickets at $7 a pop, with the revenue from the first 386 ticket sales going to cover the Aces’ cost, and the money from the remaining 114 tickets going straight to each respective high school program.
So Ellis got on the horn, calling league rival Fernley to see if the Vaqueros were interested. He didn’t get a response. So he tried another league rival, Dayton, whose coach was interested but not its athletic director, Ellis said. Next, he tried soon-to-be league rival South Tahoe, which is slated to join the 3A ranks in all sports next school year.
Don Amaral, head coach of the Vikings, jumped at the opportunity. And the rest is history.
and#8220;This is fantastic,and#8221; Truckee principal John Neary said during the game. and#8220;Our commitment was to sell 500 Aces tickets. But everything else is free and#8212; the admission, they’ve got the scoreboard going and#8230; this is a class act. For high school kids to get to play here, oh my goodness.and#8221;
Dan Izzo, the Aces’ account executive, said he hoped the experience would stick with the Truckee and South Tahoe players, most of whom will never get a chance to play at such a quality venue.
and#8220;It’s something that I got to do when I was in high school. It’s something that probably 99.9 percent of these guys are never gonna reach this level, but it’s a very neat opportunity, and I hope that it sticks with them for a long time,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Hopefully it’s something we can continue to do with the schools in the area.and#8221;
Ellis said the Wolverines and Vikings likely will play again next season at Aces Ballpark, possibly more than once.
To view a photo gallery from the game, go to http://www.sierrasun.com/photos.