Clutch pitching lifts Warriors over Virginia City
For the Tribune
Pitchers Hunter Morgan and Cody Gibson each survived bases-loaded scares as Whittell staved off Virginia City 4-2 in their home opener Tuesday night at Lampe Park.
Morgan spotted the Muckers a run in the first inning, but the senior stayed strong throughout his 4 1/3 innings of work.
He powered his way through a bases-loaded jam in the third with an inning-ending strikeout and finished with seven strikeouts, throwing 72 pitches in his first start this year.
The game was close throughout, but Whittell trailed only briefly. Down 1-0 in the home half of the first inning, Matt Elliott and Oliver Curiel delivered consecutive RBI hits with two outs and the Warriors took a 2-1 lead. Then Morgan and his Virginia City pitching counterpart settled down, matching scoreless frames until the fifth.
After Morgan surrendered the tying run with one out, Warrior Coach Jessie Zuber called on Cody Gibson for help. Facing bases-loaded jeopardy, “Gibby” struck out the next two batters to retire the side and leave three Muckers stranded.
The junior lefty would strike out five, pitch scoreless ball for 2 2/3 innings and get the win in relief of Morgan.
In the bottom of the 5th, the red and gold took the lead for good. Combining three walks and a hit batsman with Morgan’s second hit of the game and an RBI fielder’s choice from Elliott, the Warriors closed out the scoring with their two runs and the 4-2 lead.
Morgan and Gibson combined for 12 Ks and they enjoyed support in the field as well. Right fielder Marshall Neil made a run-saving diving catch in the first inning and catcher Elliott caught two Virginia City runners trying to steal. Shortstop Ty Sprock ranged far to his right to rob a Mucker of an infield single with help from Gibson’s stretch at first. And the game ended on bizarre 1-3 double play, Gibson fielding a comeback bouncer and flipping to Morgan at first base, where he tagged both the bag and retreating runner.
Coach Zuber was pleased and impressed.
“We showed some heart out there,” he said, referring to the Warriors answering each Mucker score with two runs in their at bat.
And some class, he noted, when Morgan shook Gibson’s hand as thanks for picking him up in the 5th inning.
Zuber also singled out freshman second baseman Jake Sharp saying, “He hit a single, got on base (twice) and stole a base.”
Next up for Whittell, a Saturday double-header at Lampe against Sparks. The 3A Railroaders were playoff caliber last year and are off to a 4-1 start in 2012 after sweeping Incline last weekend.
Games are set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.