Wolvernes season ends, Ladies head to tournament
Those of us who made plans prior to Saturday for the NIAA 3A Northern Zone Baseball and Softball Tournaments should have known better.
While it looked like it was a safe bet to assume that the tournaments would be held at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno and that both the Truckee Wolverines’ baseball and softball teams would be playing, neither scenario turned out to be the case.
The Wolverines’ baseball team is out after being swept by the North Tahoe Lakers on Saturday, losing by scores of 8-6 and 11-2.
Truckee finished in a three-way tie with North Tahoe and Dayton, put came out on the short end of tiebreakers that look at head-to-head competition and run differential.
The Lady Wolverines are in the tournament, but as a #3 seed, missing out on the much coveted #1 and #2 seeds because of an unexpected sweep last week by Fernley of then first-place Manogue.
That not only dropped the Lady Wolverines out of the running for a first-round bye that the top-two seeds get, it gave the Lady Vaqueros of Fernley the regular-season league title and the right to host the Northern Zone Tournament.
The girls regular-season league champ hosts both the baseball and softball 3A Northern Zone Tournaments beginning on Thursday, May 9 and running through the weekend.
With a sweep of the winless North Tahoe Lakers, the Lady Wolverines charge into the zone playoffs in Fernley this Friday.
Truckee won each of their games against the Lakers last Saturday by wide margins, 17-1 and 20-0.
Heather Shove got the victory in both games.
Jesse Turner went 3-for-5 and Julie Rohrback went 3-for4 with a double and a triple in the first game.
In the nightcap, Amber Harder went 3-for-5 while Shove was 3-for-3 with a home run and a triple.
The zone tournament will include six teams, with the two top seeds getting first-round byes. The four lower seeds will play for the right to face the top seeds in the second round later in the day.
The format is the same for both the baseball and softball tournaments.
A champion, runner up and third-place teams to come out of the third round will move onto the state tournament in Mesquite, Nev. May 16-18.
One team from the Southern NIAA 3A also advances to the baseball and softball state tournaments.
Truckee is one of three, or maybe even four teams that has a legitimate shot at a state title.
In games against the two teams that finished in front of them, the Lady Wolverines lost two close games to Manogue and swept Fernley.
In addition, Lowry, who finished fourth, can’t be counted out entirely, as they managed to split a double header with each team.
Truckee plays Yerington at 10 a.m. in a first round match on Friday, with Manogue lying in wait for the winner. That game will be at 2 p.m.
In the other bracket, Lowry and Spring Creek square off at noon, with the winner taking on top-seeded Fernley at 4 p.m.
The third-place game is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the championship game at noon.
All games will be at Fernley High School.
In sharp contrast to last week’s double header against Lowry in ice-bowl conditions in Truckee, the regular season finale against North Tahoe was played in picture-perfect spring weather less than a mile from the shores of Lake Tahoe at the Tahoe Vista Regional Park in Tahoe Vista on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the weather was the only thing that worked out, as they were shocked by a Lakers’ squad that seemed to simply want it more.
“I’m still dealing with. It still escapes how we could lose two games to North Tahoe,” Head Coach Jason Estabrook said on Wednesday. “We were ready. We went out to breakfast that morning and the guys were focused E but baseball is a funny game.”
Heading into the final weekend of play and needing only a split for a #5-seed in the zone tournament, Estabrook wanted the Wolverines to focus on the first game, going as far as to cancel their last non-league game earlier in the week.
He even switched his rotation, putting senior T.J. Dwyer on the mound for the front end of the twin bill with sophomore J.R. Murphy starting the second game.
In the first game, Dwyer kept the Wolverines close with decent control of his pitches, issuing only one walk while striking out five.
“T.J. pitched well enough to win the first game, but we didn’t play defense behind him,” Estabrook said.
The game was tied through four innings, with the Lakers getting a run in the bottom of the inning to knot the game at 4-4.
But the Lakers added a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings for the decisive margin.
Dwyer and Murphy each had two hits in the first game, including a double apiece, and senior shortstop Dave Larson added a solo home run.
Sophomore Casey McDermott got the win for the Lakers, with one free pass and seven k’s.
After the Lakers took game one, it was suddenly a one-game season for both teams, with winner going to the zones and the loser going home.
“One more and we are in the playoffs,” said Lakers’ Head Coach Bob Habeger in between games.
But despite the letdown of the first-game loss, it looked like the Wolverines would get the first runs across the plate in the top of the first inning in game two.
With the bases loaded thanks to a couple of walks and a hit batter by Lakers’ senior starter Matt Miller, the Wolverines had Larson and Brad Sausser coming up with only one out.
But Miller hunkered down and got both men looking on called third strikes to get out of trouble.
In the second, Truckee stranded runners on first and third after Murphy, the runner on third, got caught in a run down on what appeared to be a failed squeeze attempt.
Meanwhile, the Lakers took full advantage of their scoring opportunities and pounced on Murphy and the Wolverines to build a 7-0 lead after the second frame.
They scored two in the bottom of the first and five runs in the second that ensured their season was not over.
After a leadoff single by Miller in the second, Andrew Mayne was hit by a pitch with one out. Ryan Gilmore bunted the runners over, but with two outs, the floodgates opened and Lakers’ hits poured out.
North Tahoe sandwiched three hits around a Wolverine error and a wild pitch by Murphy.
The big hit in the inning was a double by catcher Jamie Brown that scored two.
With a seven-run lead, Miller stayed out of trouble until giving up a single run in the fifth.
The Wolverines added another run in the sixth to close to 7-2, but the Lakers removed any doubt about who would play another game and who would get ready for summer-league ball when they scored four more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
For the Lakers, who have several players that also played football and basketball, it was sweet revenge in a season that included a number of gut-wrenching losses to their rivals.
En route to winning a state title last fall, Truckee beat a gutsy Lakers’ football team 21-6 while the North Tahoe basketball team was eliminated on the final day of the season by the Wolverines in overtime.
But Saturday, it was the Lakers turn to hand out some late-season heartbreak, leaving the Wolverines’ dugout silent as they packed their bags one final time.
The baseball Northern Zone Tournament will start on Thursday, May 9, with Fernley vs. North Tahoe at 1 p.m. followed by Spring Creek vs. Dayton, at 4 p.m.
On Friday, May 10 the Fernley-North Tahoe winner plays Lowry at 1 p.m. and the Spring Creek-Dayton winner plays Manogue at 4 p.m.
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