Warriors have their day vs. Lovelock
LOVELOCK – Enough was enough.
Seniors on the Whittell High baseball team had never beaten Lovelock in any sport throughout their high school athletic careers.
But on Saturday the Warriors ended that infamous streak by beating the Mustangs – not once but twice – on the diamond at Lovelock High School. Whittell swept the Northern 2A League baseball doubleheader from the defending league and regional champions 11-0 and 13-9.
“It’s nice, especially here,” said Whittell junior Alex Potnick. “In practice (last week) we were saying, ‘We’re coming here to win both.’
Senior pitcher Jordan Morgan left little doubt about the outcome in the opening game as he came within three outs of a perfect game. After giving up a leadoff triple in the fifth, Morgan recorded the final three outs – two on strikeouts – to preserve the one-hitter and shutout.
“We had a bitter taste in our mouths from last year when they won zone,” Morgan said. “It feels good.”
His dominant performance undoubtedly made some in these parts remember Wil Schumacher, the Mustangs’ overpowering ace who was selected as the league’s league MVP and is now pitching for Shasta College in Redding.
“I never saw him throw, but heard he threw hard and was hard to catch up with,” said Whittell second-year skipper Starbuck Teevan. “With Jordan’s size and being as tall as he is and lanky, it’s hard for any team to catch up with (his fastball). In my opinion, he’s the best pitcher in the league until I see otherwise. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Morgan struck out six in the five-inning stint and improved his season record to 6-0. He helped his own cause at the plate, going 3 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Eight of the nine hitters in the Warriors’ starting lineup contributed at least one hit.
“Everyone is hitting the ball, which is good, and that helps me out a lot,” Morgan said.
Sophomore Eric Ward executed a successful suicide squeeze bunt in the second inning for one of his two hits and two RBI. Potnick tripled in a run and Sam Harris hit an RBI double during the Warriors’ three-run fifth inning. The Warriors raked Lovelock pitchers Robert Coyle and Seth Montes for four runs in the first inning, two in the third and two more in the fourth.
Potnick delivered a number of big hits and pitches as the Warriors rallied for the victory in the game two. Lovelock scored five times in the first inning to take a 5-2 lead and clung to an 8-6 advantage after three innings.
“The biggest thing was our bat. We’d get runners on, and we’d strand them,” Potnick said. “We started putting balls in play, and it made a difference.”
The biggest hit, however, was the one that Potnick hit out of play. After stroking a two-run single to center field to tie the score at 8 in the fourth inning, Potnick blasted a mammoth two-run homer over the eight-foot-high fence in left-center field as the Warriors went ahead 12-8 in the sixth.
“That felt real good when I hit it,” said Potnick off the fastball he hit more than 350 feet.
After a rough outing by junior starter Alex Vogt, the Warriors received strong relief appearances by Julian Washalefsky and Potnick. They combined to surrender just two runs in five innings of work. Potnick made a pivotal contribution when taking the mound with Whittell protecting a 9-8 lead in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second bases with one out, he fanned Bloyed and Mitch Greene, the Mustangs’ top two hitters in the order, looking to hold the lead for winner Washalefsky.
“To be honest with you, the better team won both games,” said Lovelock coach Russell Fecht. “They didn’t quit. We had them down and had a chance to take control, and we didn’t take that opportunity.
“What you’re seeing is a reversal of roles, where we’ve been the more experienced ball club in years passed and always seemed to come out on top. And now you’re looking at a (Whittell team) that has some experience on their side, and we don’t really have that.”
Both teams scratched across a run in the seventh inning before Nick Warner squeezed the final out in center field, touching off a minor celebration on the Mustangs’ diamond.
“They remember what happened here last year, and they remember what happened the other day at Lowry,” said Teevan of his team’s only defeat in 16 games. “They weren’t as focused as they needed to be (at Lowry), and we’re using what happened there as motivation. It doesn’t take a lot to get focused. We have good senior leadership on this team.”
Potnick finished 4 for 5 with six RBI and two runs scored. Leadoff hitter Nick Warner sprayed out three hits and scored three runs, and No. 2 hitter Adam Laub scored four times. Matt Schorr stroked a pair of doubles and Morgan rattled a two-run single to center.
Whittell remained unbeaten in league play at 4-0, while Lovelock opened its league schedule with the losses. The Warriors are idle until playing Smith Valley on April 13 at Lampe Park.
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