Truckee baseball | Wolverines take two from Dust Devils, advance to state
DAYTON, Nev. and#8211; The Truckee baseball team is returning to the 3A State Championship tournament after sweeping top-seeded Dayton in their best-of-three playoff series Friday and Saturday.
After taking Game 1 of the series, 6-4, on Friday, the visiting Wolverines busted open Game 2 with an eight-run sixth inning en route to 13-5 victory the next morning.
Truckee, which finished runner-up at state a year ago, will open the state championship tournament in Mesquite against Southern 3A champ Boulder City on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. The double-elimination state tournament continues Friday and Saturday, May 20-21.
On Saturday, Dayton simply couldn’t muster enough runs to overcome Truckee’s offensive barrage. And they certainly didn’t have an answer for Truckee senior James DePew, who finished 5 for 5 with five extra-base hits and#8211; a monstrous home run and four doubles. He had six RBI.
DePew also started on the mound, holding the Dust Devils to one run through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth.
In contrast to Friday’s slow start, the Wolverines wasted little time jumping on Dayton starter Houston Berntson, tagging him for three runs in the first inning.
Leadoff man Aaron Pado set the tone, driving the first pitch of the game to left field to reach base. Senior center fielder Tanner Churich followed with a walk, and DePew drove in Pado with one of his four doubles on the day. Churich then scored on Stein Retzlaff’s fielder’s choice, and Erik Holmer singled in Retzlaff to extend Truckee’s lead to 3-0 out of the gate.
The Dust Devils answered with a run in the second, but DePew took it back in the top of the fifth with a tape-measure shot over the left-center field wall.
Down 4-1, Dayton put together a serious rally in the bottom half of the fifth, scoring four runs on a walk, four singles and a double to chase DePew from the game with one out. Depew was lifted for Tony Buranzon, who was then replaced two batters later by Englert, who coaxed the final two outs to end the threat.
Truckee trailed by a run entering the top of the sixth. But that was soon to change, as the Wolverines sent 12 batters to the plate in the frame, scoring eight runs on a walk, a hit batter, five singles, a double and a suicide squeeze.
After adding an insurance run in the top of the seventh, Englert preserved his win with a shutout inning to clinch Truckee’s state berth. Englert allowed only one hit and one walk in 2 2/3 innings.
DePew surrendered five runs in 4 1/3 innings on six hits and four walks, striking out four, while on offense, Pado, Churich and Ryan Smith each had two hits.
Truckee will be joined by fellow Northern 3A members Fallon and Lowry in the state tournament. Coincidentally, all three Northern representatives were the No. 2 seeds in their respective regional series.
Boulder City was 6-2 in league this year and beat Virgin Valley twice to capture the Southern 3A’s lone entry in the state tournament.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.