Baseball: Truckee takes third in first-ever 3A championship
In its first-ever Nevada Class 3A State Baseball Championship tournament, Truckee finished third after beating North Tahoe and losing two games to Boulder City at North Valleys High School in Reno.
The ineptness of some productive bats that got them there and the rare shelling of their ace pitcher hastened the Wolverines’ downfall in the school’s first trip to a state championship since they moved to 3A competition in 1995.
After literally stealing a loser’s bracket win on Friday versus North Tahoe, Truckee’s inconceivable run to a state championship ended with a 5-2 loss to the Boulder City Eagles on Saturday morning.
Eagles center fielder Jesse Oliver hit a leadoff homer off Truckee starter Nik Smith to ignite a three-run bottom of the sixth that broke a 2-2 tie. Oliver, who will play for University of Nevada-Reno next season, hit up Truckee pitchers for two homers and five RBIs in two games. After yielding only four hits through the first five innings, Smith (2-2) gave up three run-scoring hits in the sixth and took the loss.
Truckee held a 2-0 lead after Shane Wright’s RBI single in the third inning, but Boulder City senior Brian Shea settled down to pitch scoreless baseball over the last four frames.
Boulder City had pummeled Truckee and No. 1 pitcher J.R. Murphy a day before by eight runs. Murphy struck out 11 in the game, but he was noticeably uncomfortable on the mound, giving up 13 hits and seven earned runs in six innings in his fourth loss of the season. The knockout blow against the usually dominant Murphy was Oliver’s three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that sealed the final score at 9-1. Murphy came into the game sporting an outstanding 1.32 ERA.
At the plate, Murphy was not his usual self either. He came in leading Truckee in RBIs and homers, but he finished the tournament 0 for 8 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. Murphy was not the only usually reliable Truckee batter that struggled, as Smith was held to an infield single going 1 for 8 with two walks in the tournament. Smith came in leading Truckee in hitting with a .439 average, but he and Murphy combined to hit .063 in the No. 3 and 4 spots in the order.
The Wolverines lineup was frustrated by Eagles junior pitcher Joe Rush, who threw a complete game and gave up zero earned runs on Friday. Rush was supported by an Eagles infield that turned three double plays Ð including one off the bat of Jeff Hansen to end the game. Wright and Buck Claesson had two singles each that accounted for all the Truckee hits off Rush. Wright was 6 for 9 with an RBI and a walk in the tournament.
Truckee’s initial loss to Boulder City set up a Friday afternoon loser’s bracket game against North Tahoe, which was victimized by a no-hitter thrown by Bishop Manogue’s Manny McElroy in a 3-0 loss on Friday morning.
A steady rain fell in the first couple innings as Truckee pitcher Daniel Galvin took the mound and squared off against North Tahoe’s Ryan Lane in a must win for both clubs in the double-elimination tournament.
In what turned out a high-scoring affair between the California rivals in brisk winds, North Tahoe’s defense faltered in the later innings and Truckee overcame deficits of 5-1 and 7-3 to win 9-8.
Michael Brown’s three-run homer put North Tahoe up 5-1 in the top of the second. After Kyle Adams brought Truckee closer with a two-run single in the bottom half, Brown struck again in the fourth with a line drive RBI double down the left field line to make it 6-3. A Robert Lane sacrifice fly put North Tahoe up by four going into the bottom of the fourth.
That’s when Galvin began a surprising power surge. The junior had not homered over the fence in his baseball career, he said after the game, but his opposite field, three-run homer that put Truckee within one couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I just saw (the pitch),” Galvin said. “I didn’t think it was out (of the park). I thought it was a gap shot. I didn’t think it was high enough.”
The next day, Galvin roped another homer in his first at-bat against Boulder City. Galvin was 5 for 10 in the tournament with two homers, a double and a team-leading four RBIs.
On the mound, Galvin said he wanted the ball against North Tahoe, despite the poor weather. Galvin was efficient against a Lakers team whose strength is hitting, but his pitching stint came to an end in the top of the fifth after a Ron Forte sacrifice fly and a two-out walk to Ryan Lane loaded the bases with the score 8-6.
Truckee coach Jason Estabrook decided to go with Murphy, who gave up zero earned runs in a May 8 victory at North Tahoe. Three pitches later, Murphy struck out Brown to stop the threat. Then North Tahoe’s defense unraveled.
In the bottom of the fifth, Truckee tied the game without a hit. Murphy was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Wright struck out, but the ball skipped to the backstop. Murphy hustled to score from second on the play, and Wright was safe at first. Wright advanced to second when Paul Tierney was hit by a pitch. Later in the inning, Wright stole third, and the throw from catcher sailed into left field, scoring Wright easily to tie the game at eight.
After Murphy pitched a scoreless sixth, it was Galvin’s turn to steal the game-winning run. Galvin led off the inning with a stand-up double and later stole third. The ball trickled away from third base and ended up in shortstop Jesse Brown’s hand. Brown’s throw was too late and Galvin scored, putting Truckee ahead 9-8.
“I saw the ball on the ground,” Galvin said. “The coach started yelling for me to go, and I took off.” Galvin scored three runs in Truckee’s win over the Lakers.
In the top of the seventh, Murphy got Ryan Lane to strikeout to end the game and the Lakers season after Forte got a two-out single with no runners on. Murphy earned his 12th win of the season, and his 15 strikeouts in 8 and 1/3 tournament innings capped a remarkable senior year with 154 strikeouts – the new NIAA single-season record. Murphy (12-4) also owns the career strikeout record with 301.
Truckee finishes 2004 with a 24-14 record and was second in the Northern 3A with an 11-5 league mark during the regular season.
Boulder City lost to Manogue on Saturday, 12-9, as Manogue took its third straight 3A championship and fifth in the last six seasons. Manogue also defeated Boulder City for last year’s state championship.
The good news for Truckee and other Northern 3A teams is Manogue will move to 4A next year. Fernley – which beat Manogue twice in the 2001 state championship – and Truckee are the only Northern 3A teams to defeat Manogue in the past seven seasons. The Wolverines knocked off Manogue 3-1 on April 6.
2004 NIAA Class 3A Baseball Tournament results:
Game one: Manogue 3, North Tahoe 0
Game two: Boulder City 9, Truckee 1
Game three: Truckee 9, North Tahoe 8
Game four: Manogue 2, Boulder City 1
Game five: Boulder City 5, Truckee 2
Game six: *Manogue 12, Boulder City 9
* Last year in 3A; wins third straight 3A title
2004 Truckee baseball recap
– Record: 24-14 overall; 11-5 Northern 3A (second place)
– Went 1-2 for third place in first ever Nevada Class 3A Baseball Championship, losing to Boulder City twice and defeating North Tahoe.
– Defeated Fernley 2-1 in three-game Northern 3A Tournament series. Senior Chris Tennant had a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to propel Truckee to a 9-8 win in game three.
– Senior J.R. Murphy set the NIAA single-season strikeout record with 154 in 93.1 innings pitched. He holds the career record with 301. His 12 wins in 2004 is second most in an NIAA single season. Murphy led Truckee in homers (7), triples (6) and RBIs (34).
– Senior Daniel Galvin said goodbye to Truckee baseball by going 5 for 10 in the state tournament with two homers, a double and four RBIs. Galvin scored the winning run against North Tahoe in the bottom of the sixth. The homers were the first in his baseball career.
– Senior Nik Smith led the team in hitting (.415 average) and doubles (14). Senior Shane Wright was second with a .382 average and had five triples.
– Murphy, Wright, Smith, Galvin and Tennant are the five Truckee seniors. Murphy will play for Yavapai College in Arizona, and Galvin and Smith have committed to Monterey Peninsula College in California.
– Head coach Jason Estabrook has led Truckee to the postseason in two out of four years as head coach.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.