Play Ball! Truckee style
Dark clouds on the horizon and a cold and consistent 5 to10 mph wind blowing in from left field last Friday could only mean one thing D the Wolverines’ home opener, Truckee style.
With the high school ball fields finally free of snow, the Wolverines hosted a doubleheader against the defending state champion, Fernley Vaqueros.
And while the weather was in sharp contrast to that of a sunny day at the ballpark, so was the way the teams took the field. One team charged out of the dugout with an obvious confidence while the other team slouched through warm-ups with sagging shoulders.
Until last week, most would have guessed it would be the Vaqueros that were walking tall, but such was not the case on Friday.
Instead, it was Truckee that played with all the confidence and execution of a defending state champ while Fernley struggled through their first games without popular Head Coach James Huckaby. Huckaby abruptly resigned last week, reportedly after an argument with a player.
In sweeping Fernley 11-1 and 8-7, the Wolverines solidified their position in the upper half of the NIAA 3A and took two big steps towards reaching their goal of a favorable seeding at the Northern NIAA 3A Playoffs.
“This was a team effort. Things are coming together for us now,” Wolverine Head Coach Jason Estabrook said afterward. “These two wins give us a chance to really do something extraordinary this year.”
The Wolverines pounced on the Vaqueros early and often in the first game on Friday.
Matt Kolbe leadoff in the bottom of the first inning with an infield single before Jacob Bohart hit a tailor made double play ball right to the Vaqueros talented shortstop Matt Lambeth.
But Lambeth couldn’t field it cleanly, and both runners were safe.
Starting pitcher J.R. Murphy followed with a sharp single to left field that loaded the bases with nobody out.
T.J. Dwyer was then hit by a pitch that forced in the first run of the game and Dave Larson followed with a single past Lambeth to make it 2-0.
But after Eric Detwiler struck out and Murphy was picked off third, it looked like the Vaqueros would avoid giving up the big inning.
But Kevin Schlesinger’s two-out single brought in Dwyer for the third run of the inning.
The Wolverines followed with six more runs in the second to end the first game early.
Murphy got the complete-game win in game one, giving up only four hits with five strikeouts.
“It’s nice to have him back in the pitching rotation,” Estabrook said.
Murphy also went 3 for 4 at the plate.
Schlesinger went 3 for 4, Larson 2 for 3, with a home run.
However things wouldn’t go as smoothly in the nightcap, as the Wolverines had to claw their way back from a 7-3 deficit against Lambeth, the Vaqueros’ best pitcher.
But a four run, fifth inning rally evened the score at 7 while also taking the life out of the Vaqueros, Estabrook said.
“You could tell once we tied it that the will to win for Fernley was just crushed,” he said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Nick Smith won the game with a bases-loaded single against a drawn-in infield.
Kolbe, Bohart and Schlesinger all went 2 for 4 in the second game.
Dwyer started and got the win.
On Tuesday, the Wolverines looked to continue their winning ways with a non-league game against NIAA 2A Whittell High School of Zephyr Cove, Nev.
The Wolverines won, 23-12, but it wasn’t pretty, Estabrook said.
“It wasn’t a very well-played game,” he said, adding that he felt the Wolverines suffered a letdown from Friday’s big wins.
Only two of Whittell’s runs were earned, with Truckee committing eight errors.
Jason Pawelcyczk, James Ward and Jason Ames all had two hits apiece for the Wolverines, with Ames connecting for a pair of doubles.
Northern NIAA 3A Baseball Standings o
Spring CreekEEE. 5-3
North TahoeE 3-5
Rite of PassageEE. 0-8
o League play only