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Wolverines match opponents point-for-point in openers

BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun

Division titles are commonplace for the Tahoe-Truckee Wolverines baseball team, but state titles have become somewhat elusive.

The Wolverines have claimed division titles for consecutive seasons but are always plagued when it comes to the state playoffs. The last time Truckee won a state tournament was in 1994 when the Wolverines were still a 2A school. Last year, Truckee powered through the division playoffs but was eliminated from the state playoffs due, in part, to an evening of revelry resulting in six players and the former head coach being suspended before the tournament.

Things have changed in 2000 and a new coach is at Truckee’s helm.

First-year coach Joseph Ferrerra has teamed-up with Chuck Smith to lead this season’s Wolverines. Ferrerra, a coach for the JV team at Casa Roble High School in Sacramento County for the past several seasons, hopes to move Truckee to a higher level of play.

“I want to coach things not so consistent with high school ball,” Ferrerra said. “Bunting and running, hitting and running, stealing, different pick-offs, hitting styles … things more in line with college ball.”

Ferrerra is very encouraged by the team he’s inherited.

The team features a host of players from last season. Starters from last season on this year’s roster include Gabe Valle, Carson Specht, Peter Kennelly and, possibly, David DeCoite, whose spot on the roster is pending due to testing commitments.

There are 16 players on the team as it stands now. Tudi Corral will be playing in left field; Kennelly will compete at short stop; Valle will guard in right field; Paul Smith will play at third; T.J. Dwyer will field second base; Matt Valle will man centerfield; Billy Wrenn is the catcher as is Erik Detwhiler; Curtis Donaldson will be playing first base; Specht is one of the pitchers; Fernando Gonzales will play second base; Justin Platt will post in right field; Rocky Watson will be a utility player; Mike Holmes will be pitching; Kyle Hunt will be another second baseman; and Kevin Suter will play wherever he’s needed.

The sizable roster had its first test this weekend in a tournament held in Yerington. The Wolverines competed against the Yerington Lions, the Battle Mountain Longhorns, the Bishop Broncos and the Dayton Dust Devils, where they finished, oddly enough with a loss and three ties.

While they lost their season opener against Yerington, 2-1, the game featured a couple of bright spots. Paul Smith belted a homerun in his first at-bat of the season, scoring Truckee’s only run of the game. And, according to Ferrerra, Specht, who pitched for the Wolverines, did a good job going toe-to-toe with one of the best pitchers in the state. Specht had three strikeouts, three walks and gave up only three hits.

Smith pitched against the Longhorns and was relieved by T.J. Dwyer. The bats, though, were the component that really counted in the Wolverines’ 6-6 shoot-out. Matt Valle prompted Truckee’s scoring by getting a double to start the second inning. Kennelly advanced Valle to third with a sacrifice fly and Gabe Valle, in a brotherly kind of gesture, drove Matt home with, well, an error. It’s still an RBI. Specht drove in Gabe Valle with a hard-hit double. Gabe scored again in the fifth inning and Kennelly, Suter and Fernando accounted for Truckee’s remaining runs.

The game against the Broncos began a weird lucky streak for the Wolverines. Truckee had eight strike outs in nine at-bats in the first three innings before scoring six runs on only two hits in the fourth inning. Matt reached on an error, Kennelly hit a single, Gabe was walked and the bases were loaded. Watson was hit by a pitch and then, on the next at-bat, so was Detwhiler … two runs. Dwyer reached on an error (three runs) and so did Donaldson (four runs). Finally, Truckee earned a couple of runs when Kevin Suter pounded a triple to complete the scoring. Gabe Valle pitched in the game and had four Ks, four walks and gave up six runs on only one hit.

Truckee changed venues for its game against Dayton, but the results were more of the same … another tie. Furthermore, another tie with a host of unearned runs. In the first inning, the Wolverines took a 4-1 lead. Matt started the rally with a single … the Wolverines’ only hit in the inning. Kennelly walked, as did Smith and Dwyer, one run. Specht was hit by a pitch (two runs), and Donaldson reached on an error (three, four runs). The Devils managed to take the lead in the second with a four-run rally of their own, but the Wolverines tied it up late in the game.

“All these teams [at the tournament] have been playing together two or three months out on the baseball field,” Ferrerra said, explaining that the Wolverines have not been on a baseball field since last season. “We were like cats walking on the snow for the first time.”

“We’ve got to work on a lot of things,” Ferrerra said, “but pitching, I think is going to get us [to the playoffs]. With all the double headers they play in this league, I don’t think there’s a team that can keep up with our pitching staff.

“As we keep growing, I think we’ll put on a strong show in the playoffs.”


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