Truckee High makes first baseball playoff appearance in five years
It’s been five years since Truckee’s baseball team has played in a postseason game, but that all changed Thursday morning when the Wolverines faced Spring Creek in Fallon, Nevada, to open the Class 3A Northern League playoffs.
For Truckee’s four seniors as well as four-year Coach Jeff Murphy, the first-round matchup against the Spartans represents the culmination of years of work and perseverance.
“We’re really excited and we’re really stoked that we made it, but we’re still hungry,” said senior first baseman Colin Just. “I don’t think we’re satisfied at all, and we know we can go out and win this tournament.”
The ability to beat anyone in the league is something the Wolverines have shown throughout the season, having topped each of their league foes at least once during the year. Still there’s a bit of nervous excitement surrounding the team as they prepare to enter the playoffs.
“None of us have been there before, so we don’t know exactly what to expect. We’re just all so pumped to be there. The hard work is paying off,” said Just.
“I think there will be some nerves for the first few innings, and then they’ll probably wear off. It’s going to be something special. It’s going to be a completely different atmosphere. Not one that I’ve ever been in, so I can’t put words to it right now, but I’m excited.”
Truckee (20-9, 16-8 Northern League) will enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed and will open the six-team, double elimination tournament against No. 6 seed Spring Creek (14-15, 12-12 Northern League) at tournament host site, Churchill County High School.
Truckee dropped two of three games at home to Spring Creek last April, but all three contests were decided by two runs or less.
“They got us. They’re a quality team. They’re well coached,” said Murphy. “They’ve got a couple of guys that can really swing it, pitching is right there as well. It’s going to take every bit of playing good baseball to get a win against them.”
Truckee’s senior core said they aren’t worried about the two losses to the Spartans, stating the team wasn’t playing their best ball at that point of the season.
“They caught us in a lull in the season,” said senior Tyler Ferrera. “We should’ve swept them. Everybody here feels like we should’ve swept them. They caught us on a downswing, but we’re back up, we’re hot now … I think we’re dangerous.”
Truckee will come in playing some of their best baseball of the season having ripped off six consecutive wins to close out the year. The Wolverines tallied 10 or more runs in five of those contests.
A large part of Truckee’s success this year has come from the team’s improved approach at the plate, largely in part to the addition of Assistant Coach Jason Estabrook, and his sons, senior Joel and sophomore Tyler.
The family returned to Truckee this season, and the play of the Estabrook brothers has been key to jumpstarting Truckee’s offense.
“Overall, it’s been great playing with these guys,” said Joel Estabrook on moving to Truckee for his senior year. “We’ve just got to stay hot. We’ve been hitting the ball really well, scoring tons of runs, and if we keep that rolling in regionals, I don’t see why we should lose.”
The steady leadership and clutch play of Truckee’s senior players has resulted in the most wins for the program since 2012.
“We’ve relied heavily on them,” said Murphy. “We’ve only got four, but they’ve been go-to guys for us all year. All of them have had great senior years, and it’s something to be proud of — each one of them.”
While the team’s seniors have been crucial to Truckee’s success, it’s also been the play of a stellar junior class, as well as sophomore Tyler Estabrook, which has pushed Truckee into the playoffs.
Junior Spencer Edmondson leads the Northern League with a .511 batting average through 90 at-bats, and has a team-high 35 RBIs. Tyler Estabrook leads the team with 49 runs and 54 hits. Junior Derek LaFerriere finished the year as the team’s leader in doubles with 11; while Edmondson and Estabrook led Truckee with a combined 13 extra-base hits.
Spring Creek has its own power at the plate with the league leader in home runs, senior Thomas Ledford. The Spartans slugger has knocked eight balls out of the park this season.
Although Murphy wouldn’t reveal the starter for the playoff opener, at some point senior ace Gary Grosjean will likely take the hill. Grosjean pitched a team-high 49w 1/3 innings and led Truckee with 32 strikeouts.
“I’m definitely excited. We’re really pumped, we want to get after it,” Grosjean said. “As a pitcher I just need to hit my spots more, can’t leave the ball up, gotta keep pounding by the knees, and let my infield and outfield do some work for me … hopefully we get a good Truckee crowd out there”
Truckee and Spring Creek will kickoff the Northern League tournament on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. If the Wolverines win they’ll face No. 2 seed Churchill County (17-11-1, 17-7 Northern League) at 4:30 p.m. If Truckee falls they will play the following day in the loser’s bracket.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.