Wolverines win one, drop one against Spring Creek
It was a tale of two games for the Truckee Wolverines baseball team last weekend in Reno against the Spring Creek Spartans.
After blowing a 10-run lead in the late innings en route to an ugly 26-19 loss in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader, the Wolverines regrouped behind starting pitcher J.R. Murphy’s two-hit gem in the second game and salvaged a split.
“It was really cold and I was really worried about how they would respond [after losing the first game], but I tell you what, they responded … It was very encouraging,” Head Coach Jason Estabrook said afterward.
Estabrook said the loss in the first game was particularly disheartening because the Wolverines had big leads and their best starter, T.J. Dwyer, on the mound.
“We were up 18-8 in the fifth and we lost. And we were the home team, so if we had held them in the fifth, the 10-run rule would have been in effect and we would have been out of there,” Estabrook said, referring to the rule that calls a game if the home team is leading by 10 runs or more after the fifth inning. “We had the game, but we just didn’t have the pitching.”
Though Dwyer wasn’t as sharp as he was for much of the preseason, the Truckee bats built leads of 7-0 after the first inning and 18-8 in the fifth.
“Obviously, [Dwyer] didn’t pitch to his capacity, but we pitched well enough that we had big leads,” Estabrook said. “But he hit the 100-pitch mark by the fourth, and I had to pull him out.”
Middle reliever Daniel Hall pitched part of the fifth, but gave up eight runs on six hits before Jacob Bohart came in to finish the inning and the game. By the time the marathon fifth inning was over, the Wolverines’ lead was down to 18-16.
Spring Creek scored another 10 runs in the sixth and seventh innings to win going away.
The Spartans finished with 19 hits and were also helped along by six errors and 18 walks from Truckee.
But if the first game was sloppy and unorthodox, sophomore starting pitcher Murphy turned the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader into a neat and clean 5-2 textbook win for Truckee.
“I go back to my original quote, and that is pitching and defense win games. And J.R. pitched an outstanding game.”
Murphy got the complete game win, giving up only two hits and one earned run while striking out eight and walking six.
Murphy’s steadiness on the mound was complemented by solid team defense that only committed two errors.
“Spring Creek saved their number one pitcher for the second game, so it was very encouraging to beat them,” Estabrook said.
Dave Larson had two hits in the game, including a triple.
The Wolverines are 1-2 in league, and play Quincy on Saturday with their next league game against Dayton on March 30.
“The [NIAA] 3A, it’s a good baseball league. It’s still early but we are going to have to get better on the mound,” Estabrook said.
The Wolverines got off to an ominous start last Wednesday when they took on perennial power Bishop Manogue in Reno in both teams’ league opener.
Dwyer kept the Wolverines in the game early, but Estabrook said he had to take him out after the third to save him for games against Spring Creek.
The Wolverines trailed 4-2 in the fourth, but the Miners tagged them for eight runs in the later innings and cruised to a 12-2 win.
Starting Miner pitcher Kevin Jepson struck out 13, but Wolverine catcher Eric Detwiler did manage to go 1 for 3 against him.
“Dwyer pitched good early, but pitching didn’t hold up … and against Manogue you have to play an entire, error-free game,” Estabrook said.
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