Two hands are needed to count how many consecutive years the Truckee baseball team has played into the state championship tournament.
The Wolverines will have their work cut out for them to keep the streak rolling into 2014.
“Six years in a row we’ve made it to the state championship. This is the year it’s on the line, to see if we can make it seven,” said Truckee coach Mike Ellis, whose roster is full of underclassmen. “It’s going to be a big challenge this year.”
Truckee, which won the state championship two seasons ago, has only four seniors, while the bulk of the team is made up of six juniors and five sophomores.
“We’re just really young,” Ellis said. “But we’re going to be good in the future.”
So far the Wolverines are off to a 1-2 start in Division I-A play after the first league series at Fallon last week. They’re 1-7 overall.
Defensive lapses and injuries have plagued Truckee in the early going, as the team committed numerous errors at Fallon while many players have been slowed by arm troubles. Senior outfielder Thor Retzlaff is among them. He’s been relegated to a designated hitter role while he recovers from a rotator cuff injury.
“We’ve got a lot of arm problems,” Ellis said. “It’s really made it tough.”
Despite their early struggles, the Wolverines have reason to optimistic.
Senior pitcher and middle infielder Riley Guiragossian has been impressive in all facets of his game, Ellis said, as has his younger brother Miles Guiragossian, a sophomore who also pitches and plays middle infield. Ellis said Riley has established himself as the No. 1 starter with his wide assortment of pitches. Miles has proven effective throwing a knuckleball in addition to his fastball and curve, Ellis said.
“Riley is kicking butt right now,” the coach said, adding that senior left-hander Ty Vaio is Truckee’s No. 2 starter and sophomore Bradley VanSchoonhoven, who played varsity last year as a freshman, is the No. 3.
Junior Gavin Broad and sophomore JJ Bellon, among others, also pitch. “I’ve got a whole bunch of guys I can throw in there for an inning or two,” Ellis said.
Truckee’s lineup has varied due to injuries. Ellis expects sophomore Mike Jones to lead off once he returns from an injury, while Broad, Teagan Pado, Riley Guiragossian, Vaio, Cameron Hollabaugh and Connor Nicholas fill out the front end of the order. Vaio, Hollabaugh, VanSchoonhoven and Pado have all hit cleanup as Ellis searches for a consistent lineup.
As for the Wolverines’ league, which has grown stronger in recent years with the addition of several large schools that were allowed to drop down from the Division I, Ellis expects lakeside rival South Tahoe to be competitive, as well as Elko, Spring Creek and Lowry. Truckee got a look at Sparks on Tuesday, but the game ended too late for publication.
Truckee’s roster also includes senior Nico Gardella, juniors Johnny Spaich and D.J. Barbato, and sophomore Joey Gravell.
The Wolverines are scheduled to host South Tahoe this Friday and Saturday at Truckee River Regional Park, conditions permitting. Go to www.maxpreps.com for a complete 2014 schedule.