Whittell nine returns to state | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell nine returns to state

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

When Whittell High’s baseball season commenced, Jerel Dutton was barreling down Heavenly Ski Resort’s signature run as part of the freestyle ski team.

Dutton helped the Warriors conquer a bigger mountain than Gunbarrel at the Northern Nevada 2A Regional Tournament on Saturday in Battle Mountain, hitting a game-winning three-run homer in the seventh inning to beat White Pine 9-7.

The first homer of Dutton’s life punctuated a four-run final-inning rally that allowed Whittell to clinch its third trip to the state tournament in four years.

“It was good timing,” Dutton said. “I was real excited coming around bases. As soon as I crossed the plate I got mobbed by the whole team.”

Whittell (20-8 overall) plays Faith Lutheran, the South’s top seed, in a state first-round game at noon Friday at Whelan Field in Boulder City. The double-elimination tournament continues through Saturday.

Whittell manager Don Amaral didn’t include Dutton as part of the starting lineup until after batting practice on Wednesday.

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“It was enie meanie minie moe between he and another boy. They were the last two boys at batting practice,” Amaral said.

“I’ve never seen the kids and fans so excited after Jerel’s homer. It was just fantastic.”

The momentum from the homer carried over in the bottom of the inning as reliever Tyson Frederick retired White Pine in order, including two on strikes.

Prior to Dutton’s dramatic homer in the seventh, White Pine made a comeback of its own. The Bobcats trailed 3-0 after the first inning but used two-run rallies in the fourth and sixth innings for a 7-5 lead.

Tyler Corey started Whittell’s seventh inning with a single. After a walk to Kyle Olsen, Chris Pavich executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. A wild pitch brought the Warriors within a run, setting up a story Dutton can someday tell his grandchildren.

With an 0-1 count, Dutton lined a ball down the left-field line. With Amaral encouraging his baserunner to return to third base for a possible game-tying sacrifice fly, Dutton’s blast carried 30 feet over the fence.

“My hitting is starting to come together at end,” said Dutton, who doubled off the fence earlier in the game. “I’m bust connecting with the ball better. In the batting cage I’ve just been hitting it harder.”

Frederick, Corey, Olsen and Dutton each collected two hits.

Whittell’s tournament run of late-game comebacks ended as defending state champion Battle Mountain steamrolled the Warriors 11-0 in a five-inning championship game.

The Longhorns’ Tim Andersen and Jesse Anson limited Whittell to five hits, including two each by Frederick and Jake Summers.

“They lit us up. They are so strong,” Amaral said. “We had reached our goal of making state and we had used all of our pitching.”

West Wendover nearly turned Whittell’s first trip to Battle Mountain into a rest stop on Friday. The Warriors fell behind 3-1 in the fifth inning.

“I knew we were in for a tough game because they had a first-team all-leaguer pitching,” Amaral said.

But Whittell pulled even in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single by Summers. Joey Byne started the rally with a single and Ian Jacobsen followed with a walk. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a double steal.

In the sixth, three walks, Olsen’s two-run single and a sacrifice fly by Corey enabled the Warriors to pull away to an 8-3 victory.

“We always hit the ball. When we get down early we just know that we are going to hit ball and get more runs,” Dutton said.

Whittell’s balanced attack saw everyone in the starting lineup but one player contribute a hit. Corey and Summers each knocked in two runs.

Frederick pitched the distance, striking out six and allowing six hits.

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