Whittell baseball falls to Virginia City 11-4, suffers first Div. IV West League loss
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — In a battle of Div. IV West League unbeatens, the Whittell baseball team came up short. The Warriors lost to Virginia City 11-4 on Friday, April 29, at Lampe Park — unable to keep the undefeated Muckers from a 14th straight victory.
“I’m very happy with what happened today,” Warriors coach Tobias Donahue said. “It sucks to lose, but the way we lost — those are changeable things.”
After a scoreless first inning, control issues on the mound put Whittell (7-10, 5-1 IV West) in an early hole. Virginia City (14-0, 6-0) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second against Warriors freshman starter Cody Ruby, and took a 2-0 lead when the right-hander hit consecutive batters.
“If we would have been able to go a couple innings without letting them score, I think they would have felt the pressure,” Donahue said.
With the bases still loaded, the Muckers extended their lead to 4-0 on a two-run single from Tanner Uken. Virginia City then scored in each of the next three innings, and it appeared Whittell was headed to a 10-run defeat — but the Warriors had other plans.
“Things were going wrong, but we continued to play hard,” Donahue said. “Even though we were down 10, we were still playing and trying to get back in it.”
Trailing by 10 runs headed into the home half of the fifth and sixth, the Warriors scored in each frame to stay alive. In the bottom of the fifth, junior Colton Ruby lined a two-out RBI single to right field to put Whittell on the board and make it 10-1.
“That was the most exciting part,” Donahue said. “We were fired up throughout the whole thing and stayed in it even when things started to go downhill.”
Virginia City scored a run in the top of the sixth, but Whittell again prevented the 10-run rule. Cody Ruby led off with a single, and scored two batters later on a single from junior Josh Burch — then with two outs, freshman Gunnar Barnwell delivered an RBI single that made it 11-3.
Junior Sam Berry held the Muckers scoreless in the top of the seventh despite issuing a pair of leadoff walks. Whittell scored on an RBI groundout from senior Chris Evans in the bottom of the seventh, but Uken struck out the Warriors’ final two batters to end any hopes of a comeback attempt.
Whittell finished with eight hits in Friday’s loss, including six in the last three innings. Colton Ruby led the way offensively, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI while junior Kai Mangiaracina (1-for-2, two runs), Barnwell (1-for-3, RBI), Burch (1-for-3, RBI), Berry (1-for-3, run) and Cody Ruby (1-for-4, run) added a hit apiece.
Cody Ruby lasted 3.1 innings on the mound, allowing eight runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks — the right-hander also hit four batters. Berry threw 3.2 innings of relief, allowing three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Uken threw a complete game for Virginia City, but Whittell got to the Muckers’ right-hander late. In 7.0 innings, Uken struck out 12 with three walks and allowed four runs on eight hits.
“Hitting his fastball was the key,” Donahue said. “We allowed too many first-pitch fastballs to go by and then we were seeing his curveball — which he threw and located really well.”
In the first meeting in five days between the Div. IV West’s playoff participants, Whittell couldn’t rebound from an early deficit en route to defeat. The Warriors believe they can hang with the Muckers, and get a second chance at undefeated Virginia City on the road Wednesday, May 4 — first pitch is at 4 p.m.
“They don’t hit the ball that hard, but they put the ball in play, hit it where you pitch it, don’t make mistakes defensively and throw strikes,” Donahue said. “They didn’t do anything that blew us away — we can play with them.”
The Warriors conclude their regular season Thursday, May 5, against Sierra Lutheran at James Lee Park. The Div. IV Northern Region tournament begins Friday, May 13, at Carlin (Nev.).