Wild game turns Whittell’s way in the seventh
Warriors senior Alex Vogt watched a lot of pitches Tuesday night. For six and a half innings he stood at first base and looked on as pitcher after pitcher took his turn at retiring the opposite side in order.
Neither defense offered up much help. The proof was in the 14 combined errors that lit up the scoring line between cross-town rivals South Tahoe and Whittell. And while it’s hard to point at any one hit over the course of the seven innings, and call one more important than the other, there was a men-among-boys when Whittell head coach Starbuck Teevan sent Vogt to mound in the bottom of the seventh with a two run lead.
“Alex said he wanted the ball and he told me he had it,” Teevan said. “He said he would bring the win home for us and I never doubted him.
“I said before the game, knowing we were going to save him, that if we had a chance to win late we’d have him available.”
Vogt needed just one pitch – his fastball. It sat down the South Lake eight, nine and leadoff hitters in order, and put the exclamation point on a big come-from-behind win for the Warriors.
With the two schools separated by just a few miles, the win also came over a team made-up of players Whittell knows very well.
“It’s such a neat game because these kids grew up with one another. They know each other very well and a lot of them are friends still,” Teevan said. “And for us it’s a big win. It gives us some momentum going into the playoffs Friday.”
Vogt got his opportunity in the seventh due to some clutch hitting out of the middle of the lineup – specifically from fellow senior Alex Potnick who came up large at the plate for Whittell. Not once, but twice late in the game.
He flied a double to the left-center field fence in the top of the sixth which plated Taylor Weik and Jess Latta, tying the game at nine all.
After the host Vikings came back in the bottom of the sixth and took an 11-9 lead, Potnick came back in the top of the seventh and lined a two-out, two-RBI single of South Tahoe’s Jamie Yelles.
That single gave the Warriors a one run lead as an RBI groundout from Weik had already made it 11-10 South Lake. After Potnick’s single changed the lead for the seventh and final time, Vogt lined the first pitch he saw from Yelles in his next at bat to right, scoring Tyler Sprock and giving himself an added bit of insurance, now up 13-11.
Rigel Garmin did his best to extend the game in the bottom of seven, working Vogt to a full count before he went down swinging to end the game on strikes.
Potnick, the offense star of the night, was a homer short of the cycle. He tripled in the third, doubled in the sixth and singled in the seventh. He scored one run and finished the night with five runs batted in.
“Alex is a guy who always seems to step up in the big games,” Teevan said. “I wasn’t really surprised that they pitched to him in the sixth with a base open. Guys have pitched around him before and then had Alex [Vogt] come up and burn them.”
At the plate, Vogt was three for four on the night with a run scored and three RBI.
South Lake was led by two-hit nights out of both Garmin and Bobby Oakes. Garmin added and RBI and Oakes scored twice. Colton Marchesseault had a three-RBI triple in the second inning when the Vikings broke open a 5-2 lead.
Whittell came back in the top of the third and used three South Tahoe errors to get back in the game and lead 6-5.
In the bottom of the third it was an RBI sacrifice on a great suicide bunt off the bat of Yelles that tied it at six. He scored Jake Braun who had tripled to start the inning.
In the top of the fourth Dillon McKeen got through a scoreless half inning as he worked around a two-out walk to keep the game at 6-6.
In the bottom of the fourth it was the Vikings who got back on top courtesy of a walked issued to Garmin. He stole second, moved to third on a throwing error and then scored on a passed ball.
Whittell tied it back up in the top of the fifth when Vogt walked to begin the inning, then moved to third and scored on back-to-back errors on the left side of the South Tahoe infield.
With the score seven all, South Tahoe got two in the bottom of five. It all started with two out and no one on when Andrew Contaxis was hit by a pitch. A single from Oakes scooted underneath the glove of the Whittell center fielder, allowing Contaxis to score from first and putting Oakes on second.
A high pop fly on the infield from Marchesseault was misplayed and allowed Oakes to score which made it 9-7 south Lake.
That’s when Potnick came to work in the sixth and seventh. South Lake’s last lead in the bottom of the sixth came when they got back-to-back RBI singles from Dominic Diana and Tyler Sharp.
Reflecting on the game afterwards, head coach Rich Rubel was proud of his team for executing when they did, but disappointed they put themselves in as many tough positions as they did.
“There was good baseball and there was bad baseball played on that field [tonight],” Rubel said. “Give Whittell credit. They capitalized on our mistakes. We’ve lost five games this season in the seventh inning now, but we’ve still come a long way from where we were at the start of the season.
“One of the things that we’ve been teaching these kids is that you have to hit the ball to score runs, but pitching wins ball games. I am very proud of them. They’ve learned a new style of baseball this year and they’ve done it almost all in the gym. That says a lot about their character. The team as an entity has come a very long way and the city here has a lot to be proud of.”
Diana pitched nicely in relief for South Tahoe, coming in at a juncture in the game that tested the young hurlers mindset.
“Dominic did a fantastic job at coming in and shutting them down,” Rubel said. “Dom is a young pitcher who is learning what he is capable of doing. He’s been successful at a lot of different positions for us this season.”
The playoffs are something that remain on the mind of South Tahoe. But with the loss they’ll need a big three-game sweep of league-leading Sparks. That attempt starts already today when they host the Reno-based team in a do-or-die match-up.
“This loss puts us in a very tough spot,” Rubel said “Sparks is loaded. Three or four of their hitters are leading most of the major hitting categories in the 3A level in the entire state of Nevada. They have somewhere around 60 stolen bases and are just a very solid, fundamentally sound baseball team.”
Game time tonight in South Lake is set for 3:30 p.m.