It’s a good thing the Tahoe Twins have more than one quality arm.
Despite staff ace J.R. Murphy suffering a season-ending elbow injury in recent weeks, the Twins appear to be right back on track after receiving seven solid innings from starter Jesse Hildebrandt in a 10-2 win over the visiting Reno Creepers on Sunday.
“The guys looked good on Sunday, and Jesse pitched a great game,” said Twins manager Bob Habeger.
Hildebrandt was in control throughout, scattering seven hits and recording five strikeouts while allowing only one earned run (two total). The right-hander is now 6-1 on the year with an ERA of 0.20. Gabe Sandersius threw two scoreless innings in relief, giving up one hit and striking out two.
The Twins took a 2-1 lead in the first inning and extended it to 4-2 with a two-run fifth. They added another run in the sixth, two more in the eighth and three more in the ninth to complete the rout.
Led by six players with multiple hits, the Twins banged out 15 hits in total, including seven that went for extra bases. Jamy Habeger went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and RBI, and Steve Derby was 2-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBIs to lead the charge.
Jesse Brown had two hits, including a triple and RBI, while Joe Thomas had two doubles and an RBI, Cory Munoz had two hits and an RBI, and Kevin Decker had two hits. Sandersius contributed a pair of RBIs, and Randy Jansen had a hit and an RBI.
Brown is hitting a modest .583 (14-for-24) with a 1.042 slugging percentage on the season. Munoz is batting .486 (17-for-35), Thomas .426 (20-for-47), Scott Decker .400 (10-for-25), Derby .395 (17-for-43) and Sandersius .392 (20-for-51). Brown, Derby, Munoz, Sandersius, Ryan Gilmore and Bobby Habeger each have one home run.
The Twins’ pitching staff has been even better, posting a team ERA of 0.78. Aside from Hildebrandt — who’s thrown a team-high 45.2 innings (only one of his 13 runs allowed has been earned) — Murphy was on fire before his injury, notching 40 strikeouts in just 27.1 innings, with an ERA of 0.33. Murphy left in the second inning of a game against the Tahoe Braves on July 8 due to elbow tightness and will not return this season, his manager said. Sandersius has an ERA of 0.61 and Thomas 0.79.
Even with such a talented staff, however, the loss of Murphy hurts in the long run, Bob Habeger said.
“That was definitely a blow. It might jeopardize our World Series this year,” said Habeger, referring to the season-ending NABA World Championship Series in Phoenix, in which the Twins have won their division each of the last two seasons — needing every bit of their pitching depth to do it. “You take J.R. out of the mix, and that’s a big part of our team. So we’ll see what happens.”
The first-place Reno Bandits, at 13-2, extended their lead to a full game on the Twins (11-2) in the Reno-Tahoe NABA standings with two wins in the past week to the Twins’ one.
The Tahoe Braves, meanwhile, were forced to cancel their game against the Bandits on Sunday because they did not have enough players.