Wolverines muscle up in home victory
Jason Chapman and John Hooper blasted two home runs apiece and Ben Tonon added one as the Truckee High baseball team clobbered Whittell 17-0 at Truckee River Regional Park Wednesday.
And its defense didn’t have to do much.
In a game called after five innings because Truckee was leading by more than 10 runs, Truckee junior Paco Ruiz allowed zero hits in four innings of work before handing the ball to Devin Shurtleff, whose quick three outs in the top half of the fifth completed the no-hitter.
The home run trend started in the first inning when Hooper ” showing why he was hitting in the cleanup slot ” muscled a pitch sky-high and deep over the right-center field fence, knocking in Scott Decker and Keven Sahlberg for an early 3-0 lead.
Tonon followed with a solo shot to the same spot as Hooper’s to put Truckee in front 4-0.
“We’re hitting a lot of home runs this season, for some reason,” Tonon said. “We just have good strokes this year.”
Ruiz, who walked only one batter in the first inning, received some defensive support in the second inning when Sahlberg drifted into shallow right field from his second base position and snagged a high pop up to prevent a bloop single.
Then came more offense.
Leading off the bottom of the second, Chapman crushed a pitch over the left field fence and into a pine tree just wide of the scoreboard.
Scott Decker followed with an infield single and Sahlberg drove him in with a triple that skipped to the right field fence. Two batters later Kevin Flynn dropped a single in front of the right fielder to score Sahlberg and Andrew Mazzini. Daniel Cramer then smacked a base hit to right to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 9-0.
“Our offensive production has improved so much since last year,” Decker said. “As a team everyone seems to be hitting.”
Ruiz, whose walk in the first inning resulted in the only base runner of the game for Whittell, sat down the Warriors in order in the top of the third.
That meant it was time for more offense.
After Sahlberg walked to start the bottom of the third, Hooper drove a pitch out of the park to left field and into the same tree as Chapman did for his second home run of the game.
“They felt great,” Hooper said of his third and fourth home runs of the season. “I like the first one better. Usually I’m a pull hitter, and to take it out the other way is pretty satisfying.”
With a comfy 11-0 lead, Tonon hit a line drive base hit up the middle and Mazzini walked, prompting the Warriors to make a pitching change. Cramer welcomed the new pitcher rudely with a base hit to score Tonon. Ruiz then walked to load the bases for Chapman, who already had one grand slam on the season.
Make that two grand slams on the season.
Chapman took five straight pitches to work the count full. He then swung at a ball above his eyeballs and outside off the plate, connecting for a towering home run into another tree, this time in right center. The lead ballooned to 16-0 on Chapman’s 13th home run of the season.
“I think as a team we’re starting to get hot,” Hooper said. “We’re building momentum going into playoffs. The team’s picking it up, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue hitting with power like we are.”
With two games remaining on the schedule ” a doubleheader against North Tahoe this Saturday ” and a playoff berth on the line, the Wolverines are heating up at the right time.
“I think we’re feeling real confident,” Tonon said. “We can definitely beat anyone in our league; it just depends on how we play that day.”
The Wolverines (7-7, 16-7) are guaranteed to make the playoffs if they win one of two games against North Tahoe, Truckee coach Mike Ellis said. Game time is 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at North Tahoe.
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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.