Aces low: Whittell baseball falls to cross-lake foe Incline 14-4 at Greater Nevada Field
The Whittell baseball team got off to fast start against cross-lake rival Incline on Tuesday, April 26. But at the home of the Triple-A Reno Aces, a win ultimately wasn’t in the cards for the Warriors.
Whittell lost to the Highlanders 14-4 in five innings at Greater Nevada Field. For the Warriors, the loss snapped a six-game winning streak.
“It was a great start, then we came out and didn’t challenge hitters and struggled to throw strikes,” Warriors coach Tobias Donahue said. “We had a few mistakes and we shut down.”
In the top of the first, Whittell (7-9) jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. Junior Sam Berry led off the game with a double, the first of four first-inning hits for the Warriors.
“The top of the first was great — we came out and hit the ball well,” Donahue said.
With one out, senior Chris Evans singled up the middle to score Berry and make it 1-0. In the next at-bat, freshman Cody Ruby lined a shot to right field that led to an inside-the-park home run and put Whittell ahead 3-0.
“That was a rip — it was a great hit,” Donahue said. “Cody can square the ball up well and he has hit the ball hard all year for us.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, their early lead was short-lived. Incline (5-10-1) put its first seven batters aboard in the bottom of the first, ultimately leading to six runs against Whittell junior Colton Ruby in his only inning of action.
“Colton hasn’t thrown a lot this year. I think he was rushing a little bit and trying to be a little too overpowering,” Donahue said. “He’s better when he’s dialed back and allowing his stuff to work for him.”
Incline extended its lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the second, and the Warriors didn’t have an answer. Whittell put runners on base in the second, third and fourth innings, but couldn’t push any runs across.
“Instead of trying to string together good at-bats, the attitude was putting together one good at-bat — that we didn’t need to put together an inning because we were out of it,” Donahue said. “A walk or a base hit and we were back in it, but we lost sight of the big picture.”
In the top of the fourth, the Highlanders struck again to put the game out of reach. Incline scored six runs on three hits to take a 14-3 lead, sending 11 batters to the plate against Evans.
“We definitely lost a little bit of our fire, and allowed the game to continue to progress without trying to make anything happen,” Donahue said. “Our attitude dropped as things didn’t go right.”
Whittell scored in the top of the fifth, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the 10-run rule. Tuesday’s game marked the second in three years the Warriors played on the diamond of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. In 2013 at then Aces Ballpark, Whittell fell to Incline 13-8.
Berry led the Warriors with three hits in Tuesday’s loss, finishing 3-for-3 with a double and a run. Cody Ruby was 1-for-2 with two RBIs while Evans went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Colton Ruby, senior Quinn Kixmiller and junior Josh Burch each added one hit apiece.
Colton Ruby allowed six runs (four earned) on two hits with two strikeouts and five walks in his lone inning of action. Evans threw 3.2 innings of relief, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Whittell resumes league play Friday, April 29, when it hosts Virginia City at Lampe Park. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the contest between Div. IV West League unbeatens.
“This team is good when we come out, play hard and don’t allow mistakes to end our day for us,” Donahue said. “Our big thing is to get over this game, move on to Virginia City and come into that one with a clear conscience.”
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