Truckee baseball: Wolverines to host Fernley in best-of-three playoff series |

Truckee baseball: Wolverines to host Fernley in best-of-three playoff series

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunTruckee pitcher/shortstop Justin Vosburgh exchanges words with Fernley's Tucker Taylor during the teams' first meeting of the season on April 22. The two will meet again in the playoffs this weekend.

TRUCKEE ” The Wolverines’ home field bustled with activity this week.

Hustling to the tune of batting-practice pings and baseballs smacking leather ” interrupted at times by the head coach’s distinct bark ” players’ parents shuffled to and from their various improvement projects.

The dugouts, bleachers and snack shack were under construction ” the bleachers about to receive a fresh coat of paint, the snack shack a “T” for Truckee and the dugouts a new, less invasive foul-ball blockade.

If anything is certain about this weekend’s best-of-three Northern 3A playoff series, it’s that the Wolverines will host in style.

And they’ll do so against a familiar foe.

Third-seeded Fernley (9-9 league) is coming to town, hoping to knock off the higher-seeded Wolverines after Truckee (15-3) took two of three from the Vaqueros during the regular season. Only this time a state championship berth is on the line.

“We’ve got to get our bats going, because that bye week just killed us,” said Truckee head coach Mike Ellis, whose second-seeded Wolverines finished league play 13 days before Friday’s scheduled first pitch.

“It’s hard to keep focus for two weeks (without games), so that’s my main concern.”

Ellis hopes the two intrasquad games the Wolverines played last weekend left them sharp on all fronts.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fungo and ground balls, so we should do all right (defensively) ” as long as we stay focused,” said senior catcher Kevin Decker, adding that shoddy defense led to Truckee’s one loss this season against the Vaqueros.

Aside from defense, Decker and team know they’ll have to swing the bats well against Fernley ace Josh Cutts, a left-hander whose 92 strikeouts in 60 innings leads the league. His 2.90 ERA ranks seventh.

“Other than Cutts their pitching is not very deep, but you never know,” said Truckee senior Michael Taylor, who powered the Wolverines to a 3-1 win over Fernley with a two-run homer off Cutts back on April 22. “We need to come out hitting, and if we can hit Cutts, it should be ours.”

Ellis expects Cutts to match up Friday against Truckee senior Justin Vosburgh, whose 2.53 ERA is fifth-best in the league. Cutts may start on Saturday, too, Ellis said, as NIAA rules allow a pitcher to throw 11 innings a week. Junior Tucker Taylor is Fernley’s No. 2 pitcher.

Truckee has several skilled hurlers of its own to counter, including junior Maclane Brady, who outdueled Cutts in the teams’ first meeting. Brady has been “lights out” since, as Ellis says, carving down his ERA to a league-leading 1.77.

Ellis said Brady will start Saturday’s Game 2 at 10 a.m., and, if necessary, senior Scott Mathot will pitch the third and deciding game at 1 p.m.

“I hope we don’t need to” play a third game, Ellis said.

Best-of-three Round 1 series

Friday, May 15 at host sites (3:30 p.m.)

Series A ” SPARKS (No. 4 seed) at SPRING CREEK (No. 1 seed)

Series B ” FERNLEY (No. 3 seed) @ TRUCKEE (No. 2 seed)

Saturday, May 16 @ host sites (10 a.m. and 1 p.m., if necessary)

Series A ” SPARKS (No. 4 seed) at SPRING CREEK (No. 1 seed)

Series B ” FERNLEY (No. 3 seed) @ TRUCKEE (No. 2 seed)

– Winner advances to the 3A state championship in Las Vegas on May 21-23.

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