Whittell baseball rolls in Div. IV West opener, downs Sierra Lutheran 13-5
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — After a rough start to its season, the Whittell baseball team is ready to move forward. And the Warriors showed that in their Div. IV West League opener.
Whittell beat Sierra Lutheran 13-5 on Tuesday, April 5, at Lampe Park. The Warriors jumped on the Falcons early to win their league debut and notch their first home win of the campaign.
“It’s only going to get better from here,” Warriors senior Chris Evans said.
The game was tied 2-2 in the third inning when Whittell (2-8, 1-0 IV West) broke it open. The Warriors sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third and scored six runs on six hits to take an 8-2 lead, one they would never surrender.
“We wanted to come out here and forget about the past,” Evans said. “This is what counts. We wanted to show up and do our thing that we know we can do.”
The Warriors put their first four batters on base to start the third — including an RBI double from freshman Cody Ruby and run-scoring single from junior Josh Burch. Burch’s single made it 4-2 and chased Sierra Lutheran starter Zane Warkentin.
Whittell added to its lead against Falcons reliever Bob Sciacca, stringing together three straight one-out hits to cap the rally. Junior Kai Mangiaracina smacked a two-run single, senior Quinn Kixmiller lined a two-run double to left field, and Sam Berry had an RBI single to put the Warriors up 8-2.
“It was good to see all the guys swinging and we went through the order,” Evans said.
In the top of the fifth, Sierra Lutheran (0-4, 0-2) scored three runs on three hits to cut Whittell’s lead to 9-5. The Falcons had runners on first and third with two outs, but Cody Ruby struck out Nathaniel Lanacchione to end the threat. He threw 5.0 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
The Warriors scored twice in both the fifth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach. In the sixth, juniors Colton Ruby and Dismas Womack produced back-to-back RBI groundouts to make it 13-5.
In the last two innings, Whittell turned to freshman Gunnar Barnwell on the mound for the first time this season — and fresh off the hill, the right-hander delivered. Barnwell retired six of the seven batters he faced in 2.0 scoreless frames and held the middle of Sierra Lutheran’s order hitless in the seventh to secure the win.
“It’s definitely huge to start off league doing well and show the other teams we’re not struggling as much as our record might show,” Evans said. “We started off the season 17-0 last year, so it’s a little different now. We can do it, we just have to play hard.”
Whittell had 14 hits in Tuesday’s win, led by Burch’s three-hit performance. Burch finished 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs. Womack (2-for-4, RBI, three runs), Cody Ruby (2-for-4, RBI, two runs) and junior Sam Berry (2-for-4, run) also collected multiple hits for the Warriors.
For Whittell, the victory snapped a five-game losing streak. The Warriors’ other win came against Silver Stage (Silver Springs, Nev.) in the Yerington Tournament on March 12. Last weekend, April 1-2, Whittell fell to Northern California opponents Loyalton (12-2), Maxwell (11-9) and Greenville (9-4) at the Greenville/Quincy Tournament.
“It’s been a real struggle — we have new coaches and we lost a few players,” Evans said. “We’ve been focusing more on building a program this year, and things are starting to come together.”
The Warriors return to action Tuesday, April 12, for a home league doubleheader against Pyramid Lake. First pitch at Lampe Park is scheduled for 2 p.m.