Truckee grads to play ball at Feather River
Feather River College seems a popular destination for the 2006 crop of Truckee High baseball players.
Recent graduates Scott Decker and Ben Tonon have made verbal commitments to play for the junior college in Quincy.
Reed Peters, head coach of the Feather River baseball team, said nothing is guaranteed when high school grads verbally commit, as there are no scholarships available or letters of intent to sign at the junior college level.
“We’re hoping (each comes out for the team),” Peters said. “You kind of hold your breath when kids are verbally committed. But they have visited our campus, and I think they could help us tremendously.
“They’re good competitors and great kids,” the coach continued. “(Feather River) is definitely a place where they can really develop as baseball players.”
Decker, who hit .448 and stole 15 bases his senior season as the Wolverines’ catcher, was on campus as recently as Tuesday, when his Reno Muckdogs team of the Joe DiMaggio League faced off against Peters’ independent Middle Fork River Cats.
“I’m pretty excited that I get to play at the next level,” said Decker, adding that he is already enrolled in classes at Feather River and has received a training regimen from the school’s baseball program.
So he’s a guarantee.
Decker said he has been splitting time at catcher this summer with his Muckdogs team, and has also been playing some first base and third base. He’d like to catch at Feather River, but said he’ll play wherever he is needed.
“Anywhere I can play, I’m willing to play,” Decker said.
Because all but one of Feather River’s starting players graduated in the spring, Peters said, the catching position is wide open.
“He has a big opportunity (at catcher). I think that’s where he’ll be most valuable for us,” Peters said.
If Decker can match, or even come near, his offensive production as a Wolverine, he should have a good shot. Last season the senior led the team in RBIs (22), doubles (7) and walks (10) while scoring 20 runs on 22 hits in 49 at-bats. He finished the season with a slugging percentage of .673.
“He finds a way on,” said Mike Ellis, head coach of the Truckee High baseball team. “He also gets walks. He battles and makes the pitcher throw him his pitch, which is the sign of a good hitter.
“He’s gonna learn a lot at Feather River. He’s got a good opportunity with baseball if he sticks with it.”
In spite of an outstanding senior football season during which the Truckee wingback gained 902 yards on the ground ” averaging 11.7 yards per carry ” and 436 yards through the air ” averaging 15.6 yards per reception ” Tonon decided to pursue baseball.
“Baseball has always been my passion,” he said. “I love football, but baseball is just my passion. It suits me more.”
And he’s no slouch on the diamond.
Tonon made second team all-league as a pitcher last season and played a solid center field. The right-hander struck out 63 batters in 46 innings of work while compiling a 2.89 E.R.A. Offensively, Tonon hit .312 in league and had a .541 slugging percentage, two triples and one home run (he had five home runs overall).
Tonon most likely will play at Feather River next season.
“I can’t wait,” he said of playing college baseball.
Asked why he was “leaning towards” playing at Feather River, Tonon said “The location. I’m a fishing, hunting type of guy.”
Ellis said he certainly has the talent to play college ball.
“He’s a gamer. If he works out he can really be somebody,” Ellis said. “He carried us on his shoulders at the end of the season single handedly.
“He’s a competitor; he doesn’t like to fail. He’s gonna be good as long as he works out.”
Recent Truckee grad Jason Chapman is in the process of tracking down a college baseball program to join.
After being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 44th round of the Major League Baseball draft last month ” and passing on the contract offer ” Chapman has the luxury of scouting around a bit.
“He can start anywhere he goes,” Ellis said, rattling off schools the likes of Cal Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and others. “Just the way he plays, it speaks for itself. He’s a baseball player.”
Chapman, who played shortstop and second base for Truckee, has yet to make his decision. The lead schools, he said, are Sierra College, American River and Cuesta. Santa Rosa is still in the running, he said, but most likely he will choose one of the aforementioned junior colleges.
“I’m looking forward to the whole atmosphere and competition that goes along with college baseball,” he said.
Chapman said he will soon make his decision.