Getting game one win important for baseball team
When Truckee hosted Fernley in an April 10 doubleheader, it was a tale of two entirely different games. In earning a split, Truckee rode an offensive explosion to a 16-0 game-one victory, but a game two letdown led to a 7-2 loss.
On Friday at 3:30 p.m., Truckee will host Fernley in its first NIAA 3A Northern League playoff series appearance since 2001. This time the stakes are much higher, with the winner of this weekend’s best-of-three series advancing to the state championship tournament.
In the 16-0 game-one victory on April 10, Truckee rocked Fernley’s starting pitcher Tim Reeder in an offensive outburst that featured 18 hits. Truckee also rode the arm of ace J.R. Murphy in that game, who has won nine games and has struck out 129 batters in 74 innings this season.
But game-two was a different story, with Fernley pitcher Tony Selden throwing a complete game and yielding only two runs. Truckee’s offense suddenly became anemic against Selden.
“(Selden) locates his fastball very well and gets ahead in the count,” said Truckee head coach Jason Estabrook. “(Our hitters) were always behind (in the count) against him.”
Estabrook will probably hurl Murphy and his lights-out fastball at Fernley. Fernley will probably go with Selden, but Estabrook noted that Cody McDougal and Casey Bisard have also been picking up league wins for Fernley late in the season. Estabrook knows that a win today is pivotal for Truckee.
“Getting that first win is really important for us,” he said.
Behind Murphy, Truckee boasts plenty of pitching depth.
Jimmy Williams is 5-3 on the season with a respectable 3.71 ERA. After Williams, Estabrook can choose from Nik Smith, Ben Tonon or Daniel Galvin – who all sport ERAs over 4. Smith is hitting .420 and has 22 RBIs.
Truckee last won a state championship playing as a 2A team in 1994. Fernley took the 3A state title in 2001.
2004 NIAA 3A Northern League baseball tournament
Who: Fernley at Truckee
What: Best-of-three playoff series
When: Game one: Today, 3:30 p.m.
Game two: Saturday, May 15, 10 a.m.
(if necessary) Game three: Saturday, May 15, 1 p.m.
Other matchups: – Lowry at Bishop Manogue (same times)
– North Tahoe at Dayton (same times)
Why: Winners advance to state championships
What to look for in the series
– J.R. Murphy’s strikeout record: With eight more strikeouts, Murphy will break Mike Esposito’s (Cimarron-Memorial,1999) listed NIAA strikeout of 136 strikeouts. On Murphy’s current pace of 1.74 strikeouts per inning, he would break the record by the fourth or fifth inning of his next start.
– Win game one: The importance of game one is obvious, but even more important for these teams because they each have one dominating pitcher.
– Top of the lineup vs. middle of the lineup: Truckee will be concerned with stopping Cody Reiger and Tim Reeder, the No. 1 and No. 2 hitters in Fernley’s lineup. For Truckee, the middle of the lineup has struggled recently and will have to find its stroke.
– Nik Smith in the one-hole?: Smith’s .420 batting average would place him 11th in the listed NIAA season records. Estabrook recently moved Smith to the leadoff position against North Tahoe. He responded with a 3 for 4 performance, with an RBI double, his team-leading 11th of the season, in a game two win.
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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.