Ideal baseball weather at Lampe Park brought out the fighting Warrior spirit, but Whittell’s comebacks fell short in two games against North Tahoe Saturday afternoon.
North Tahoe 10, Whittell 8 (8 innings)
Starters Matt Elliott and the Lakers’ Alex Tyler were dominant for the first two innings of the opener. Tyler struck out the side in the second during a scoreless duel.
In the third, however, North exploded. A walk, hit batsman and bunt single loaded the bases. Errors also hurt the red and gold as they fell behind. The Lakers’ Wildon DesLauriers laced a two-RBI double and Colin Spencer singled in two more. Jackson Wood and Omar Vargas also had RBI hits in the inning and when the Warriors finally retired the side, the Lakers were cruising, 7-0.
But, game over? Not so much.
Elliott settled down and the Warrior defense held firm. North loaded the bases in the fourth, but Elliott struck out the side without a score. Coach Thomas Hunter pulled strings, switching his shortstop (Jake Sharp) and center fielder (Cody Gibson). Result: Sharp made an outfield assist to snuff a Laker threat in the fifth inning. In the sixth, Gibson, as a left-handed shortstop, made a crawling stop of a hot grounder then forced the runner to retire the side. Both plays prevented the Lakers from scoring.
Meanwhile, the Warriors chipped away at North Tahoe’s lead. In the home half of the third, Robbie Poet lofted a two-out single over second base and scored when Elliott blasted a double to the gap in left-center. It was now 7-1.
In the fifth, Whittell batted around, scoring four runs. A Laker error, a hit batsman and singles by Elliott and Gibby got things started, then Avery Laub crashed a two-run double to pull the Warriors close, 7-5.
In the sixth, Sharp was hit by a pitch, Poet doubled him home, then scored himself on Elliott’s single and Whittell had come all the way back to tie the game at 7-7.
Myers had been relieved by DesLauriers in the sixth and finished with nine strikeouts for North Tahoe. Elliott continued to labor on the hill for Whittell in the seventh. The stocky junior again retired the side and the Warriors had a chance to win. Chris Evans lined a single to left, but was stranded with Elliott on deck, and the game went into extra innings.
Once more, Elliott took the mound for the top of the eighth. The Warriors got two quick outs as Evans caught a tricky popup and handled another chance at second. But North finally got back on the board. DesLauriers gapped a two-out double to right-center. Then he and Spencer combined for a perfect hit-and-run to go back in front 8-7. Elliott was relieved on the mound and got an ovation from both camps. He’d done yeoman’s work with 126 pitches, striking out 12 Lakers. North’s rally continued. Mitchell Myers plated Spencer with a single and later scored to give the Lakers a 10-7 lead.
Still the Warriors wouldn’t quit. Elliott boomed an opposite-field triple to lead off the bottom of the eighth and Gibby drove him home with a sac fly. But that was all the Warriors would get and North held on for the 10-8 extra-inning win.
“We played well,” Coach Thomas Hunter said, “but we gotta cut down on those errors.”
For the Warriors, Elliott was 4-for-5 with a double, triple, three RBI and two runs scored. Gibby had three hits, two RBI and a run scored. Poet rapped two hits, two RBI and scored three runs.
North Tahoe 8, Whittell 6
Game 2 was Gibson versus Spencer in a battle of pitching aces. And more of the same, as the Lakers again built a big lead and nearly saw it slip away. After allowing two unearned runs in the first, Whittell answered in the bottom half with doubles by Gibson, Elliott and Poet to tie the game 2-2.
In the third for North Tahoe, Spencer launched a colossal three-run homer over the fence in left to the base of the softball field bleachers — right where someone would have stood had the girls’ games not been cancelled earlier. The blue and white held a 6-2 lead in the fourth and it seemed secure. Whittell left the bases loaded without scoring in the third and Spencer had struck out the side in each of the first three innings.
But, again, the red and gold scratched back. In the fourth, Kody Dangtongdee walked, advanced to third base two batters later and scored on a balk. 6-3, Lakers.
North got insurance in the fifth when Spencer singled and Myers doubled him home. The Lakers scored again in the sixth.
But Whittell charged back each time. Hits by Elliott and Poet in the 5th got the Warriors closer at 7-4. Then in the 6th, Laub was hit by a pitch, Evans reached on an error and Elliott drove both home with another long double. Whittell closed the gap to 8-6, but that would be all the scoring for the game.
Gibby finished with 9K’s for Whittell in 6 innings work, with Poet striking out 2 in a scoreless 7th. Elliott was a perfect 4-for-4 with 3 doubles, 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Spencer went the distance for North Tahoe and finished with an eye-popping 19 strikeouts.
UP NEXT: The Warriors will play a Wednesday match up against Incline at Aces Park in Reno at 4 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Warriors will play a doubleheader at Incline at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.