Truckee baseball sweeps Sparks, advances to state championship
Truckee hitters peppered the ball, baserunners ran with typical abandon and senior ace Keven Sahlberg gutted out seven tough innings as the Wolverines completed a two-game postseason sweep over visiting Sparks on Saturday.
The 14-10 win sends Truckee to the Nevada 3A State Championship tournament, which will be held at UNR’s Peccole Park and Western Nevada College in Carson City on May 16-17.
“It was a great win; we’re going to state,” said Truckee head coach Mike Ellis, chewing on snack-bar nachos after a postgame chat with his team. “Keven wasn’t at his best, but he finished it. He’s a battler.”
Sahlberg created plenty of trouble to battle through, walking seven and hitting two batters while consistently going deep into counts. Ellis stuck with his ace through stressful times, however, and Sahlberg never cracked.
He scattered eight hits while recording 12 strikeouts and leaving 11 runners stranded in the high-pitch outing. Sahlberg’s greatest escape came with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, when he fielded a ground ball off the bat of Jake Kozlowski and initiated a home-to-first double play to end the game.
“I could have gone two more (innings),” Sahlberg joked after his win, which improved his season record to 7-0. …
“I just didn’t want to end baseball the same way (as football),” he added of his gritty victory, referring to Truckee football’s first-round playoff loss this past fall.
Like Friday’s opener, the Wolverines found themselves in an early hole when sophomore third baseman Kent Orta blasted a loud three-run homer to left-center.
Remaining true to their comeback form, the Wolverines answered, doubling their opponent’s run total in the bottom half of the first with six runs off senior starter Aaron Quilici. Junior Kevin Decker sparked the rally with a triple and Sahlberg connected for an opposite-field home run as Truckee sent 11 hitters to the plate.
“We played good. We had to come back again in the bottom of the first, but
we never gave up,” said Decker, who went 4 for 7 with a home run, triple and three RBIs in the series. “We made some errors but we came through.”
Truckee struck again with four runs in the second to go on top 10-3, then scored four more in the fourth to push its lead to 14-6.
The Wolverines chased Quilici from the mound after three-plus innings, tagging him for 12 runs on nine hits, five walks and three hit-by-pitches. First baseman Chris Haun came in for relief and allowed two runs on four hits the rest of the way.
Despite trailing by as many as eight runs, Sparks didn’t go quietly, posting at least one run every inning after the second.
It simply wasn’t enough to match Truckee’s well-rounded offensive effort.
The Wolverines accumulated 13 hits from nine different players, seven of whom had one or more RBI. And after hitting just seven home runs during the regular season, Truckee added a third homer to the series and second of the game when Trevor Allen led off the fourth with a smash over the tall section of fence in left field. Allen went 2 for 3 with a double, home run and RBI.
“A lot of people have been working on hitting after practice, and I think that’s helped us in the playoffs,” said Decker, who hit his long ball in the first inning of Game 1.
While the Wolverines muscled up in the series, they also ran all over the basepaths and played textbook small ball. A day after scoring two runs on a suicide squeeze bunt, Truckee pulled it off again, this time with one out and the bases loaded in the second for junior Michael Taylor.
Taylor, who went 2 for 3 in the game with a double and two RBIs, dribbled the bunt down the first baseline and got tangled with Haun. Both went down as two runs came in to score. Everyone was safe.
Junior Justin Vosburgh, playing shortstop after earning the win pitching Game 1, went 2 for 3 with an RBI, and sophomore Brady Maclane was 2 for 4 with a double and RBI. Picking up a hit a piece were Pablo Esquivel (a double), Decker, Sahlberg, John DePew and Scott Mathot.
For the Railroaders, Nicholas Posey went 3 for 3, James Justice 2 for 4 and Orta was 1 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs. Daniel Monroe and Haun each had one hit.
“Two days in a row they jumped out to an early lead and we answered back,” Ellis said. “My guys showed me a lot out there. They battled back and then some.”
The 2008 NIAA Class 3A Nevada State High School Baseball Championship tournament is scheduled for May 15 through May 17 at Western Nevada College in Carson City and Peccole Park on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
Thursday, May 15 @ Western Nevada College
Game 1 – Virgin Valley (No. 1 Southern) vs. Dayton (No. 2 Northern), @ 1 p.m.
Game 2 – Spring Creek (No. 1 Northern) vs. Truckee (No. 3 Northern), @ 4 p.m.
Friday, May 16 @ Peccole Park, University of Nevada, Reno
Game 3 – Team tbd (Loser Game 1) vs. Team tbd (Loser Game 2) @ 10 a.m.
Game 4 – Team tbd (Winner Game 2) vs. Team tbd (Winner Game 1) @ 1 p.m.
Game 5 – Team tbd (Loser Game 4) vs. Team tbd (Winner Game 3) @ 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 17 @ Western Nevada College, Carson City
Game 6 (championship) – Team tbd (Winner Game 4) vs. Team tbd (Winner Game 5) @ 10 a.m.
Game 7 – IF NECESSARY @ 1 p.m.
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