Truckee baseball | Wolverines rout Fernley to complete playoff sweep
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The Wolverines looked intent on not playing a third game Saturday.
Unlike the opener of their best-of-three playoff series against Fernley on Friday and#8212; a 2-1 Truckee win in 10 innings and#8212; the hosts jumped on the Vaqueros early en route to an 11-2 victory to complete the series sweep.
The win sends Truckee, the top seed out of the Mount Rose League, to the 3A State Championship tournament in Reno from May 17-19. The Wolverines (26-5 overall) will enter on a 13-game winning streak, with 24 wins in their last 25 games.
and#8220;I’m so proud of you guys,and#8221; Truckee head coach Mike Ellis told his team after the game. and#8220;You guys deserve this.and#8221;
Fernley, meanwhile, ends the season 13-13 overall after earning the No. 2 regional seed out of the Lahontan League.
The Wolverines wasted little time dampening the Vaqueros’ hopes after Friday’s nail-biting pitchers’ duel. With senior No. 2 starter Tony Buranzon on his game, Truckee tagged Fernley starter Kyle Rich with three runs in the first inning before adding four more in the second off of Rich and reliever Andrew Nelson.
Already leading 7-0, the Wolverines continued the scoring trend in the third, pushing across three more runs as the Vaqueros used a third pitcher, lefty Nicolas Nelson, to try to stop the onslaught.
Now leading 10-0, Buranzon seemed poised to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule after five innings. But Fernley still had some fight left.
The Vaqueros scored two runs in the top of the fifth to prolong the game, while also ending Buranzon’s streak of 43 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
Senior cleanup hitter Trevor Auldridge manufactured a run by himself in the sixth after blooping a single, stealing both second and third, and then scoring on a wild pitch to extend the lead to the final margin.
In the seventh, Buranzon gave up a leadoff hit before shortstop Steven Baker and second baseman Aaron Pado turned a clean 6-4-3 double play. Kenney Bradley then flied out to Auldridge in center field to end the game.
and#8220;Tony was awesome and#8212; lights out,and#8221; Ellis said of his senior right-hander, who entered the game with a 0.50 ERA. and#8220;He had command and he changed his speeds. He was awesome. And our bats came alive today, which was nice to see.and#8221;
Fernley head coach James King said he was pleased to see his squad battle in the later innings, but it was too little too late after the slow start.
and#8220;The last three innings we did pretty well; errors cost us in the first few inning,and#8221; King said. and#8220;But Truckee is a hell of a team and their pitcher threw a great game. We wish them luck at state.and#8221;
Buranzon allowed eight hits and a walk while striking out seven. He said he had a good feel for his fastball but his split-finger pitch was not overly effective. He also mixed in a slider for the first time in a game, he said.
and#8220;I had to rely on my fastball a lot. I would have liked to see my splittie work better,and#8221; Buranzon said, adding that pitching with a big lead was an added luxury.
and#8220;I came in with the mentality to follow up Bake (Steven Baker) from yesterday. I was ready to play a close game. But it’s always nice to have that insurance cushion to pitch with,and#8221; he said.
The Wolverines banged out 13 hits against four different Fernley pitchers. Junior outfielder Andy McKechnie delivered the biggest blow in the second inning when he belted a bases-loaded gapper that cleared the bases. Auldridge finished with three hits and two RBIs, while Ryan Smith drove in two runs with a solid single in the first inning, Pado had two hits and an RBI, and Brooks Hudson had a hit and RBI. Chris Towle was 2-for-2 with two hard-hit doubles, and Riley Guiragossian, Ty Englert and Luke Theis each had a hit.
Timothy Klotz, batting leadoff, led the way offensively for the Vaqueros with a 3-for-4 day with a double and an RBI. Kyle Bryce had two hits and Erik Wilson an RBI.
Truckee will enter the 3A State Championship tournament as the No. 2 seed from the North while Elko will enter as the No. 1 seed and#8212; despite the fact that Truckee owns the better overall record (26-5 overall to 21-8) and league record (12-0 to 13-2) and defeated Elko, 4-3, during the regular season.
Elko was awarded the higher seed based on the Northern 3A tiebreaker rules, which use point differential against common opponents, but only from the one 3A crossover tournament. Truckee’s head-to-head win against Elko counts for naught because it was in the Carson Tournament and not the crossover.
Among their three common opponents in crossover action, Truckee defeated Fernley, Fallon and Dayton by a collective margin of 15 runs, while Elko defeated the same three by a total of 16 runs. Thus, the Wolverines will open the double-elimination state tournament against the top Southern seed, Moapa Valley, on Thursday at 1 p.m., while Elko opens against third-seeded Fallon.
Thursday’s action will be held at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. The tournament then moves to Peccole Park on the campus on University of Nevada, Reno on Friday and Saturday. The state final is Saturday at 9 a.m.
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