Warriors baseball headed back to State
LOVELOCK, Nev. – The Whittell Warriors will get a chance to defend their 2A State baseball title after they recovered from a 6-1 deficit to defeat Battle Mountain 8-7 in the game to go to the State tourney Saturday.
After opening up with a convincing 9-2 win over third seeded Pershing County, the Warriors took on on the chin Friday afternoon when top-seeded Yerington dropped them into the losers bracket.
There, they matched up with Battle Mountain – who opened up the tourney by falling to Yerington 7-6. After knocking host Pershing County from the tourney Friday afternoon, they met Whittell Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in a win or go home matchup.
Having to spend the night in Fernley due to lack of accommodations in Lovelock, Whittell was up and on the road by 7 a.m. in order to make it to the field in time for the elimination game.
A slow start ensued. In the first, starting pitcher Matt Elliott struck out the Longhorn’s leadoff batter, but walked the next three before a single gave Battle Mountain a 2-0 lead.
Alex Potnick was called upon to pitch next. The senior co-captain finished the inning, but was himself removed in the second in favor of Julian Washalefsky who was now staring at a 6-1 Battle Mountain lead.
In the home half of the second, Washalefsky helped himself with a one-out double which set the table for Eric Ward. Ward, returning to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined by sickness, hammered the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a two-run homer which sparked Whittell to life, trailing 6-3.
Back on the bump, Washalefsky stopped the bleeding for the next two innings and allowed the Warriors to inch back in. Alex Vogt, who would eventually become the game five savior, singled, then rode home on Elliott’s RBI-double that trimmed the Longhorn’s lead to 6-4.
In the fourth, with two outs and the bases empty, Ty Sprock looped a single to start Whittell’s winning rally. After Potnick reached on an error, Vogt’s bat thundered again as the senior launched a three-run shot to right, putting the Warriors ahead for good. A final run was added when Elliott reached on an error and was plated by co-captain Matt Schorr’s RBI single, which turned out to be the game-winner.
The Warriors led 8-6, but wouldn’t score again.
In the fifth, Battle Mountain tallied once and loaded the bases with two outs to threaten. On the hot seat, clinging to their 8-7 lead, coach Starbuck Teevan gave the ball to Vogt, who had thrown 122 pitches the day before in his complete-game win over Pershing County.
The senior southpaw answered the call, inducing an inning-ending popup to end the Longhorn threat/
Vogt took command from there, retirning the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to preserve the victory for Whittell and send the team back to State.
The win was a true team effort according to Tevan. Taylor Weik joined Vogt with a two-hit day; Potnick flashed some great leather after returning to his familiar shortstop position; Sprock made some fine plays in the outfield and at short, and Elliott was rock-steady behind the plate.
A key difference for Whittell was their error-free fielding, nearly every player making a contribution defensively.