Whittell third in state tournament | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell third in state tournament

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

BOULDER CITY — For about half a game Friday afternoon it looked like the Whittell baseball team was going to be playing for a shot at the Nevada 2A state championship.

In the sweltering Southern Nevada sun in front of about 100 umbrella-wielding fans at Whelan Field, the Warriors put on a raucous display, literally shaking the house down with every hit as they cheered one another on to a 7-2 fourth-inning lead against Southern Nevada 2A champ Faith Lutheran.

As rock music blared from a sound system behind home plate and spectators lined up at the snack trailer to buy something cool to drink in near-100 temperatures, the Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead over the Crusaders, who were clearly the local favorites.

Seemingly unfazed by the blazing desert heat early on, the Warriors pulled out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning behind a double by Ian Jacobsen. Then Jake Summers stepped up to score two, and Whittell was sitting nicely atop a 5-0 lead.

Still in the second, the Crusaders knocked in two and the score remained 5-2 until the fourth inning, when Whittell seemed to break it open when Jacobsen’s double scored two more runners for a 7-2 lead.

But in the bottom of the fourth, Faith Lutheran started kicking into overdrive at the plate. Every ball hit seemed to be out of the Warriors’ reach as the Crusaders jumped out to an 8-7 lead and never looked back.

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Travis Purdy, solid through three and a half innings, struggled to contain the sudden fire that leapt from the Crusaders’ bats.

Leading 11-7 in the sixth inning, the Southern champions proved that reaching the title game last year before losing 2-1 to Battle Mountain was no fluke.

The final count was 17-7 and the game ended in the bottom of the sixth on the 10-run rule.

“We had them 7-2 in the fourth,” said a disappointed Whittell manager Don Amaral. “They just started hitting the ball and simultaneously we stopped fielding the ball and the two things caught up with us. We are disappointed. We had the number one seed. We made some mistakes and they came back and hit the ball.”

Crusaders manager Chris Pfatenhauer said his starting pitcher, Jason Sinske, keyed the win for the team.

“He struggled early and we made four errors behind him, but once we made the game a game again he came in and only gave up two hits in the last three innings,” Pfatenhauer said. “He clutched up for us at the end.”

The victory was the Crusaders’ 31st for the season.

“We don’t push the panic button,” he said. “We can be down five, six, seven runs in this type of atmosphere and just kind of stay with what we’re doing and adjust to their pitching. All year long, especially in the playoffs, everybody has been throwing soft left handers against us and we’ve been struggling with them at first, but then our guys make adjustments.”

The Warriors went on to beat Lincoln County in Friday’s consolation round by a score of 8-4 before losing 5-4 to Battle Mountain on Saturday to be eliminated from the tournament. Faith Lutheran went on to win the state title with a 12-6 win over Battle Mountain later Saturday afternoon.

“The game to go to the finals was just an incredible game,” Amaral said. “We were down 4-2 going into the top of the sixth and we scored two to tie it. In the bottom of the seventh with two outs, we tried to steal home for the win and a Battle Mountain kid made a great play to get us out. Then we went to the eighth and they scored a run to beat us. We battled tooth and nail in that game and their were some great plays on both sides of the ball.”

The Warriors were led on offense by Jacobsen, Tyson Frederick and a triple by Tyler Corey. Jerel Dutton also had a two-run single. Frederick pitched four innings, with Purdy relieving.

Whittell ended up in third in the state and a final season record of 21-10.

“We did very well,” Amaral said. “I don’t think we had enough depth in pitching, but we battled Battle Mountain to the very last out. Our kids fought hard in all of our games.”