Truckee baseball, softball | Wolverines to host first-round playoff series
The Wolverines earned every bit of their homefield advantage in the opening round of the postseason.
Three months after breaking out the gloves and bats in the school gymnasium and#8212; the only dry space large enough to toss a ball around in March and#8212; Truckeeand#8217;s baseball and softball teams are polished to form and set to host their respective Northern 3A postseason series as No. 1 seeds this Friday and Saturday.
Both teams will take on a familiar league opponent in the Fernley Vaqueros, whose baseball and softball teams both enter as No. 2 seeds out of the Lahontan League.
Truckee baseball could not be much hotter.
At 24-5 overall, the Wolverines are riding an 11-game win streak into their best-of-three playoff series, which begins Friday at 3:30 p.m. Theyand#8217;re 22-1 in their last 23 games, with their only losses of the year coming against 4A schools (Spanish Springs, Douglas and Manogue) and larger California programs (Colfax and Central Valley).
and#8220;I think weand#8217;re playing real well,and#8221; said Truckee senior pitcher Steven Baker. and#8220;Weand#8217;ve had a couple of close games recently, and itand#8217;s good to have those so we can make sure we still have the competitiveness that we had in the beginning. I feel like we have a good chance at taking the state championship this year.and#8221;
Truckee head coach Mike Ellis shares Bakerand#8217;s confidence. But he stressed that the Wolverines must not overlook any opponent en route to their goal, including the Vaqueros, who finished the regular season 13-11 overall and 7-5 in the Lahontan League.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re just taking it one game at a time,and#8221; Ellis said. and#8220;We have a good group. Theyand#8217;ve really come together. They know one another and they support one another.and#8221;
The teams met once in late March, with Truckee coming out on top 7-1 behind a strong pitching performance from senior starter Tony Buranzon. In a complete-game effort, Buranzon held Fernley to just three hits and a walk while striking out five.
and#8220;Theyand#8217;re a pretty good ball club,and#8221; Baker said of the Vaqueros, and#8220;but if Tony is dealing like he was the first time, and if I do better than I did against Sparks (a 7-6 Truckee win), then I think weand#8217;ll do just fine.and#8221;
The Wolverines particularly like their chances with the one-two punch of Baker and Buranzon, their top two hurlers. Baker enters with a 4-1 record and 2.24 ERA, with 46 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. Buranzon is 6-1 with a minuscule 0.50 ERA, as heand#8217;s given up only 11 runs total in 42 innings. He has 40 strikeouts.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re going to be a tough team to beat,and#8221; Buranzon said. and#8220;As long as Steven and I keep doing our thing on the mound, and everyone keeps doing their thing with the bats, and I think weand#8217;ll come out with a victory.and#8221;
While Buranzon and Baker have been lights out on the mound, they arenand#8217;t the only Wolverines who can throw. Truckee boasts a deep pitching staff full of quality arms, including No. 3 starter Stein Retzlaff (3-0, 3.21 ERA), Aaron Pado (3.43 ERA) and Ty Englert (4-1), among many others. A total of 13 Truckee players have pitched this season.
The Wolverines can hit, too, evidenced by their .362 team batting average. Fernley statistics were not available.
Truckee softball enters the postseason with a five-game winning streak on the line after sweeping three games from Sparks and winning two of three against South Tahoe, which ended up as the No. 2 seed from the Mount Rose League. The Wolverines finished 14-10-1 overall and 11-1 in league, with just the one loss on the road to the Vikings, 4-2.
and#8220;I think theyand#8217;re doing really well,and#8221; said Truckee coach Bret Churchman. and#8220;One of the ways we benefit is that weand#8217;re stuck in the gym (the first half of the season) when all the other teams are practicing outside. And now weand#8217;ve been outside for a few weeks and have had the opportunity to work on the stuff we couldnand#8217;t get done in the gym, and so weand#8217;ve really come around.and#8221;
Truckee and Fernley matched up three times during the regular season. Fernley won two of the games in shutout fashion, 10-0 and 4-0, while the teams tied 6-6 in the first meeting. Freshman pitcher Kailey Daggit (8-2, 1.68 ERA) had the Wolverinesand#8217; number in both shutouts, as she gave up only five hits total between the two complete-game outings.
and#8220;Weand#8217;ve been taking a really solid approach in practice, working on seeing the ball, and the girls have been hitting really well. Theyand#8217;re ready to go out and attack,and#8221; said Churchman, whose team has a collective batting average of .333, led by Cheyenne Acededoand#8217;s .479 mark. and#8220;But Fernley is very well-coached team. We canand#8217;t give them anything. And if we do, we have to stop the bleeding right away.and#8221;
Sophomore pitcher Breanna Weber will be responsible for keeping the Vaqueros at bay. The left-hander, who enters at 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA, with 75 strikeouts in 75.2 innings, will start in the circle the first two games, Churchman said. Senior third baseman Krysta Murphy will pitch in relief, although Churchman said the Wolverines would like to avoid that scenario if possible, as their defense is strongest with Murphy at her regular position.
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