Truckee baseball preview | Well-rounded Wolverines aiming to win it all | SierraSun.com

Truckee baseball preview | Well-rounded Wolverines aiming to win it all

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Sylas Wright / Sun File PhotoTruckee senior Steven Baker fires a pitch during a game at Aces Ballpark last season. Baker and Tony Buranzon are Truckee's top two starting pitchers, while the Wolverines have a number of other capable hurlers.

As Truckee baseball coach Mike Ellis will confirm, there simply are no holes in the Wolverines’ roster in 2012.

and#8220;We look good, real good,and#8221; the eighth-year head coach said of his team, boasting about the Wolverines’ deep pitching staff, sure-handed glove work and ability to hit the ball. and#8220;We’re a team that’s all of that and#8212; small ball, long ball, we hustle, we play heads-up, we have unity. We’re a powerhouse. We’re going to be tough to beat.and#8221;

So far, the Wolverines are off to a 4-4 start overall after taking on several 4A schools to begin the year and#8212; including Douglas, Bishop Manogue and Spanish Springs. They’ve earned quality wins over defending 3A champ Fallon, 8-0, and a solid Elko team, 4-3, while routing an improved North Tahoe squad in both games of a Mount Rose League doubleheader on Wednesday.

Truckee’s solid pitching was on display against the Lakers. Top starters Steven Baker and Tony Buranzon, both senior right-handers, combined for nine scoreless innings to help lead the Wolverines to big wins. Baker has yet to allow a run in 10 innings, while Buranzon is coming off of five shutout innings.

and#8220;Baker and Buranzon are dealing,and#8221; Ellis said, adding that both pitchers gained velocity over the offseason. and#8220;Baker hasn’t given up a run in two games. He’s really come around. He’s lighting things up. You can’t stop him and#8212; hitting, fielding, pitching. He’s going to have a great year.and#8221;

With such a demanding league schedule, which includes no fewer than three games a week, pitching depth is crucial. And Truckee has just that.

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and#8220;We’ve got lots of pitching,and#8221; Ellis said. and#8220;Just about everybody can throw.and#8221;

Aside from Baker and Buranzon, Truckee’s staff includes Aaron Pado, Ryan Smith, Stein Retzlaff, left-hander Brandon Deeter, Max Collinson, Ty Englert, Andy McKechnie, Jackson Rohlf, Chris Towle and Travis Ferre, Ellis said. Erik Holmer, who is currently out with an injury, also pitches.

Ellis said Pado will throw Saturday in a doubleheader against Incline, as will Smith and Retzlaff.

and#8220;We can hit, too,and#8221; Ellis reminded. and#8220;Auldridge is crushing the ball right now, so is Baker, Pado, Rohlf …and#8221;

Indeed, the Wolverines can hit, evidenced by their .320 team average after 172 collective at-bats. Truckee’s 1-2 hitters, Pado and Baker, lead the way offensively.

Pado has posted a .429 average with four doubles and a team-high eight RBIs, meaning guys at the bottom of the order are also reaching base. Baker, meanwhile, is hitting .444, while starting catcher Rohlf is hitting .412 in the third slot.

Auldridge, who’s Truckee’s center fielder, is batting in the cleanup hole and is followed by Smith, a first baseman, and McKechnie (.333), a left fielder. Brooks Hudson, Retzlaff, Towle, Ferre and Luke Theis have traded off hitting seventh through ninth.

Truckee also has proven itself as a good defensive team, Ellis said, with Pado and Baker standing out as a deft double-play duo in the middle infield and#8212; Pado at second base and Baker at shortstop when he’s not pitching.

and#8220;Hands down, we have the best middle infield in the state of Nevada with Baker and Pado,and#8221; Ellis said, adding that his coaching staff isn’t shabby, either, with the likes of former Truckee players J.R. Murphy, Scott Decker and David Walker as assistants, and Michael Taylor leading the JVs. and#8220;It’s awesome the help I’m getting from them.and#8221;

Baker, Smith, Auldridge and Buranzon and#8212; four of Truckee’s nine total seniors and#8212; serve as team captains, while the rest of the roster breaks down to seven juniors and an occasional freshman, Cooper Krug, when he’s not playing for Taylor on JV.

Last year the Wolverines swept a three-game series from Dayton in the Northern 3A regionals before losing by lopsided margins to Boulder City and Lowry in the state tournament in Las Vegas. They played into the finals of the state tourney the year before that but lost to Virgin Valley.

Their No. 1 goal in 2012: Return to state, and win it all.