Warriors Brave Sparks Onslaught
Special to the Tribune
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – When the Sparks Railroaders rolled into Lampe Park Saturday for a twin-bill against Whittell, the Warriors knew they were moving up in class.
Sparks High’s student body is nearly seven times that of Whittell’s, but the red and gold hung in there with the bigger school.
Though the Railroaders prevailed with 10-6 and 19-4 victories, Whittell fans had plenty of reasons to cheer throughout the blustery afternoon, as the Warriors took the lead in both games and stayed close in the early innings.
Sparks won the first game 10-6. Down 3-0, Whittell batted around in the home half of the first inning.
Lefty Cody Gibson tripled, then trotted home on Avery Laub’s RBI single. Matt Elliott reached on an error, Robbie Poet singled, and Jake Sharp got aboard via another Railroader miscue.
Siriamma Williams then drilled a gapper to the fence in right-center for a two-out, two-RBI double, and the Warriors were in business, up 5-3.
Elliott started on the hill for Whittell and pitched well, but defensive support was spotty. Sparks regained the lead in the second, Elliot kept Whittell close by striking out 13 Sparks batters in his six-inning, 107-pitch effort.
Whittell’s Gibson paced all hitters going 4-for-4. Poet and Hunter Morgan each knocked an RBI to go with their two-hit games. Kiefer Putman hurled the complete game win for Sparks.
Again in the second game, Whittell took the early lead. Gibson led off with his fifth consecutive hit of the day and later scored by outfoxing the Railroaders in a fielder’s choice rundown between third and home. Elliott added an RBI single, giving the Warriors a 2-1 lead that held until the third inning.
The powerful Railroaders scored five runs in the third, but the red and gold answered to pull close at 6-4. In the fourth, Whittell starter Gibson pulled a muscle and had to leave the game. From there, the floodgates opened and Sparks pulled away for the five-inning win.
In scoring four runs, Whittell’s Gibson, Morgan, Elliott and Poet all singled off Sparks ace Jerad Longland.
Sparks brought their record to 7-1, look likely to repeat last year’s appearance in the 3A playoffs.
For the Warriors, a profit of experience they can apply to their next game – a Wednesday 4:30 p.m. contest at Lampe Park versus another 3A foe, the Hug Hawks if weather permits. Then on Friday and Saturday Whittell is the host for the 2A crossover tourney in Gardnerville.