Tahoe Twins, Braves enjoying new wood-bat league | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Twins, Braves enjoying new wood-bat league

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Sylas Wright / Sierra SunJesse Hildebrandt of the Tahoe Twins makes solid contact during a game against the Reno Astros last season in Tahoe Vista. Hildebrandt and the Twins are back with a slightly adjusted roster and a new league this year.
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The defending NABA World Series champion Tahoe Twins are back in action, but with a slightly tweaked roster and an offshoot ball club joining their newly formed wood-bat league.

The Twins and#8212; an adult baseball team made up largely of North Tahoe and Truckee high grads and#8212; are now a member of the eight-team Reno/Tahoe chapter of the National Adult Baseball Association (NABA).

and#8220;It’s very competitive,and#8221; Twins Manager Bob Habeger said of the new league, which he helped form during the offseason. and#8220;On the first weekend there were four games, and three of them were decided by one run.and#8221;

Habeger assembled the Twins in 2009, calling on former players from his star-studded Babe Ruth team from back in the day, most of whom graduated high school between 2003 and 2005.

Along with the North Tahoe and Truckee standouts, which include Habeger’s three sons and#8212; Bobby, Andy and Jamy, as well as Jesse Brown, Steve Derby, Scott Decker and others and#8212; the Twins also gained several quality ballplayers from out of the area who relocated to the North Shore. They include Jesse Hildebrandt and Joe Thomas, both of whom pitched for their respective colleges, and Reno High grad Drew Lipnosky.

In its first year the team dominated the Western Nevada chapter of the NABA, which included teams from Fallon, Carson City and Reno. After the league dissolved following the 2009 season, the Twins played a competitive independent schedule in 2010, facing the semi-pro Reno Astros and other adult teams from Northern California. They also added two players from Fallon and#8212; second baseman Cory Munoz and Jake Morford.

The Twins ended the season by winning the 18 and older Rookie Division of the NABA World Series in Phoenix this past October.

With their success, the Twins were on the map. And others wanted in on the fun. So after receiving a number of requests from local players to join the team, Habeger and one of his assistant coaches, former North Tahoe baseball coach Jack Bernardo, started another Tahoe-based team called the Braves.

Habeger also approached the NABA in the offseason and gained approval to form a Lake Tahoe chapter of the national organization, under which the Twins and Braves are insured, he said. With the NABA franchise already established in the Tahoe area, six adult-league teams from Reno joined forces to create the new Reno/Tahoe branch. Habeger expects even more teams to join next year, from communities such as South Lake Tahoe, Carson City and the Minden/Gardnerville area.

and#8220;There’s some good talent in the league,and#8221; Bernardo said. and#8220;The top four teams have some really good ballplayers, especially pitching.and#8221;

Bernardo’s son, 2008 North Tahoe grad Sean Bernardo, is the only Twins player to join the Braves, who’ve had players slowly trickle in since the start of the season in early May.

and#8220;This is an evolving team,and#8221; Bernardo said of the Braves. and#8220;I’ve been adding players for the last six weeks. I think I’ve added a player to the roster about once a week. The hardest thing was dealing with kids still in college. They didn’t start showing up until mid May, and we started (playing) at the beginning of May.and#8221;

The Tahoe Braves, with mostly junior college players from the Tahoe Basin and beyond, share the same home field as the Twins at North Tahoe Regional Park.

Current Truckee High baseball coach Mike Ellis helped land several Truckee grads on the team, including Kevin Decker, Michael Taylor, Andrew Mazzini, T.J. Dwyer and Jacob Bohart, while Sean Bernardo is joined by former Laker teammate Zach Tomlinson.

and#8220;A lot of these guys are just getting into shape,and#8221; Jack Bernardo said. and#8220;Being the coach, all of the sudden I had all these new faces, and I didn’t know where they played or how they hit. So the first few games I was just looking to see what I got. So now, after three or four games I got a good feel for who’s doing what.and#8221;

The Twins and Braves both have packed schedules this summer and#8212; the Braves with 19 league games, mostly on Sundays, and 15 nonleague contests. In the nonleague affairs during the week, Habeger said the Twins and Braves will combine their rosters to make up for absent players who might have work obligations.

The two teams have yet to play each other head-to-head.

and#8220;We haven’t played against the Braves, but I think it will be a good game,and#8221; Habeger said.