Truckee baseball | Wolverines return to diamond for emotional home series |

Truckee baseball | Wolverines return to diamond for emotional home series

Sylas Wright
Truckee senior Thor Retzlaff and his coaches and teammates wore shirts designed in honor of Truckee baseball coach Mike Ellis, who died Saturday, April 5, of an apparent heart attack.
Sylas Wright / |

TRUCKEE — An inspired group of Wolverines rallied for a comeback win over visiting Spring Creek on Friday but could not close out the league series, as the Spartans won both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader.

In the first game since the death of Truckee head coach Mike Ellis, the Wolverines scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 victory.

Immediately after the game Truckee players swapped out their jerseys for shirts designed in honor of Ellis — with the late coach’s No. 43 on the back, the words “Elly” across the top and, across the bottom: “September 10, 1967 – April 5, 2014.”

The next day, former Truckee player and current assistant Kevin Embertson and Truckee announcer Keith Thomas spoke about Ellis in a pregame ceremony, which ended with a long moment of silence that was finally broken by an emphatic “Play ball” by the umpire. Ellis’ father, Jack, threw out the first pitch.

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“For me, personally, it’s monumental,” interim Truckee head coach Michael Taylor said of Friday’s win. “We took the first game. We’ll try to get the sweep, and do it for Elly.”

The Spartans, who wore red wrist bands all three games in honor of Ellis, did not allow that to happen.

In Game 1, the visitors built a 6-0 lead by the top of the fifth before Truckee came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning and three more in the sixth to pull to within a run. The Wolverines put two men on base in the bottom of the seventh, but the Spartans ended the threat to escape with the win.

Spring Creek jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a five-run third inning in Game 2. Truckee made some noise with a three-run third, but the Spartans added three insurance runs in the fifth en route to the series win.

Spring Creek improved to 8-6 in Northern Division I-A play while Truckee fell to 2-7.

Senior ace Riley Guiragossian started and finished Friday’s opener, fanning six hitters along the way. He scattered 10 hits and allowed one earned run.

“It was the first time we’ve seen him be Riley all year,” Taylor said. “He’d been leaving the ball up. But today he was the ace we need him to be.”

Guiragossian said he had a good feel for his curveball, which he was able to locate throughout the contest.

Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, Johnny Spaich singled against Spring Creek starter Adrian Avina to lead off, Mike Jones coaxed a walk and Gavin Broad reached on an infield single to load the bases for Guiragossian. The senior came through in the clutch, blasting a triple into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and give Truckee a 5-3 lead.

The next batter, senior Ty Vaio, drove in Guiragossian to extend the lead to the final margin.

“It was a good game,” said Spring Creek coach Scott Gilligan. “For them, their pitcher threw well. They made plays and got hits when they needed them, and we didn’t.”

Spring Creek picked up its first run on a sacrifice fly by Lane Newman in the third. Truckee answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, on a bases-loaded walk by Guiragossian and a wild pitch that allowed Jones to score.

Avila made up for his unearned runs with an RBI single in the fourth, while the Spartans took the lead on a Truckee error in the fifth.

The Wolverines had only five hits in the game, with Spaich going 2-for-3 and Guiragossian driving in four runs. Anthony Ferreira, LJ Achenbach, Zack Zeiler and Avina each had two hits to lead the Spartans.

Game 1 on Saturday remained scoreless until Spring Creek broke through with a four-run third inning off of Vaio. The Spartans added two runs in the fifth before Truckee got on the board with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Spaich singled and scored on a hit by Broad, and Cameron Hollabaugh drove in the second run.

The Wolverines continued to chip away in the sixth. Joey Gravell knocked in a run after Zeiler opened the inning with back-to-back walks. Two batters later, Broad delivered a two-out, two-run double into the left-center gap, shaving the lead to 6-5.

Thor Retzlaff and Connor Nicholas drew walks in the bottom of seventh but were left stranded by Spring Creek reliever Christian Greenan, who replaced Zeiler to start the sixth.

Truckee managed nine hits against Spring Creek starter Mike Jones in Game 3, led by Hollabaugh’s 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Jones and Broad contributed two hits apiece, while Retzlaff had a hit and RBI.

The Wolverines are scheduled to play a league game at Sparks on Tuesday and a league series at Elko this Friday and Saturday.


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