Back-2-Back: Truckee’s Wolverines repeat as baseball state champions
For the first time in program history, the Truckee baseball team has won back-to-back Nevada state baseball championships.
The Wolverines rode strong pitching performances throughout the three-day state tournament in Mesquite, Nevada, allowing one run in three games on the way to winning the state title.
“It’s impressive what these guys were able to do this year. I couldn’t be more happy for them,” said Coach Jeff Murphy. “I don’t think a lot of people understand how hard it is to (repeat), and especially with the target on your back. The whole year everyone wants to take down last year’s winners. It’s just a really good group of kids, I’m going to miss them quite a bit.”
The Wolverines finished the season with a 30-4 record, never losing consecutive games, and won the Northern League and state championships. Due to a heavy winter in the area, the team had little time to practice outdoors and didn’t play a home game until the final series of the season.
“I look back on a season like this and these guys had — up until about the last week, a week and a half ago — these guys had practiced only three times outdoors,” said Murphy. “They were stuck in a gym playing baseball the majority of the season.”
Lack of outdoor practice time didn’t deter the Wolverines, however, as the club dominated the 3A Northern League, winning every series against league opponents while racking up a total of 204 more runs than their opposition.
State championship run
A team that often battered opposing pitchers, Truckee wasn’t able to produce the type of run support during the state tournament that it did throughout much of the season.
In last Thursday’s first-round matchup against Moapa Valley, the Wolverines were limited to a pair of runs, but senior pitcher Spencer Edmondson shut down the Pirates lineup, striking out nine batters and allowing five hits while throwing a shutout through 6 1/3 innings of work. Junior Tyler Estabrook entered the game in relief and promptly picked up the final two outs to give the Wolverines a 2-0 win.
Junior pitcher Deacon Mehler got the nod in the next game of the four-team, double-elimination tournament and turned in another solid performance as Truckee advanced to the championship round via a 3-1 win against Boulder City. Mehler struck out eight batters, and allowed five hits and no runs during five innings of work.
“Deacon’s game, he didn’t have his best stuff,” said Murphy. “He let some guys get on, but to go five scoreless innings was big for us.”
Truckee’s bullpen allowed one run to cross the plate in the sixth inning, before slamming the door in the seventh.
Streit tosses complete-game shutout in title game
After falling to Boulder City earlier in the tournament, Churchill County bounced back to make it into Saturday’s championship round.
The Greenwave needed to beat Truckee twice in order to win the state title, while the Wolverines needed just one victory to secure the championship.
Truckee senior pitcher Jake Streit got the call to start that morning. He had previously pitched in two losses to Churchill County this season, including his most recent outing, a 5-4 defeat the week before in the first game of the league championship round.
This time around, Streit turned in the performance of his high school career, throwing a complete-game shutout as Truckee held on to a 1-0 lead throughout the game to win the state title.
Senior Derek LaFerriere drove in senior Marcus Bellon in the first inning to give the Wolverines an early lead, and it would be all Streit needed to deliver the program its second straight state title.
“Jake Streit pitched the game of his career,” said Murphy. “To get one run in the bottom of the first inning and nothing else after that, I’m sure he was under quite a bit of presser as well, but just totally got the job done … just a really gutsy performance by Jake and it’s something I know he’ll remember forever as well as the rest of the team.”
Over the next six innings, Streit and the players behind him managed to blank the Greenwave, getting timely outs in several innings to strand 11 Churchill County baserunners.
“We definitely played good defense behind him, trying to limit the pressure situations,” said Murphy.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, Truckee allowed the Greenwave to load the bases with two outs. Churchill County’s next batter hit a fly into the gap between right and center field. Senior outfielders Elliot Rost and Bellon took off racing toward the ball, nearly colliding with each other on the play.
“I don’t think any of us knew who caught it,” said Murphy. “The ball went up, I’m looking out there, both of them are running on a line … I was just looking for the ball to be on the ground, which it wasn’t.
“It wasn’t until after everyone was done celebrating that I found out Elliot (Rost) caught that final out.”
Truckee finished the game with five hits. As he has from the plate all season, LaFerriere led the team with a pair of hits, including a double. Senior Sawyer Thompson also had a double for Truckee. Estabrook and Bellon had Truckee’s other hits.
“It got a little stressful there, but it’s just a testament to this team,” said Murphy on the end of the game. “They truly wanted to get that championship again, so these guys did what they had to do.
“It’s really special to do it once. To do it again shows a lot of character, a lot of heart, a lot of determination. And having to battle all the little details that not many people will see … battling the snow, all the travel, playing home games at North Valleys High School, it’s really unique to see high school kids overcome a situation that was never really in their favor and come out on top. I’m so happy for the boys. It’s all on them. Their perseverance is what got us to the top this year.”
LaFerriere led Truckee from the plate this season with team highs in hits (48), RBIs (48), home runs, (8), batting average (.475), and tied for the most doubles on the team with 12.
Bellon was next for Truckee with 44 hits, 30 RBIs, 11 doubles, and three triples. He had a batting average of .404 for the season and had a team-high 21 stolen bases.
Estabrook finished his season with 41 hits, 20 stolen bases, and a .394 batting average. He also hit 11 doubles and a home run.
Senior Shane Poe had 41 hits, drove in 40 runs, and had a team-high five triples. Poe hit .446 this season.
Edmondson had 37 hits, 12 doubles, 36 RBIs, and finished with a batting average of .389. From the mound, he pitched 36 innings, struck out 47 batters, and had an ERA of 0.78.
Senior Sawyer Thompson also broke 30 hits for the season, finishing with a .356 batting average and 31 hits.
From the mound, Mehler led Truckee with an 8-0 record in nine starts. Mehler finished with a 2.23 ERA and struck out a team-high 63 batters.
Streit pitched a team-high 66 2/3 innings. He struck out 31 batters and had an ERA of 2.73.
Sophomore Timmy Reeve was solid for Truckee from the mound and at the plate. Reeve threw 43 1/3 innings with 43 strikeouts and had an ERA of 1.78. He also hit four home runs and drove in 18 runs.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.