Numbers favor WHS for zone |

Numbers favor WHS for zone

Matt O'Neill

Baseball has always been powered by statistics.

Most baseball fans know that Ted Williams was the last Major League player to bat over .400 (.406 in 1941), but Williams’ average is nothing compared to the Whittell Warriors’ batting averages.

All five seniors head into this weekend’s Nevada 2A zone playoffs batting .500 or better and have been knocking the cover off the ball.

“Their stats are unbelievable,” Warrior manager Don Amaral said. “This is the best graduating class ever from Whittell.”

Not only have the Warrior seniors dominated from the plate, Brandon “The General” Lee, Chris Hannum, Thomas Hunter and Joe Piccola have been striking out opponents all season long.

Lee has only given up a single run in league, throwing 43 1/3 innings and sporting a 0.16 earned run average.

He struck out 120 on the season, setting a new school record and averaging about two per inning.

“He’s so intense,” Amaral said. “His stats are better than Bob Gibson’s in 1968.”

On the rare occasion that Lee doesn’t go the distance, Piccola has turned into the team’s closer, usually striking out the side in his one inning of work.

Hannum is a bonafide No. 2 starter for the Warriors and having come over as a senior transfer from South Tahoe, he was a welcome addition to a squad already favored to win the state crown.

“He’s not necessarily a newcomer,” center fielder Olsen said. “We’ve played with him since Little League.

“Baseball-wise, he’s been a solid shortstop and rarely makes an error.”

Olsen has been the quarterback of the outfield and often an afterthought in a lineup that features many powerful bats.

But he relishes the role he plays in the batting order.

“I love batting behind Brandon,” he said. “There’s always someone on base to mess with the pitchers and it gives me a lot of RBI opportunities.”

The Warriors challenged for the league title a year ago in the 3A division and have been dominating the 2A all season long, only dropping one game in league.

The Warriors’ loss to zone host Incline gives Olsen and the his teammates a little bit of incentive to claim the zone crown.

“We were just floating along before they beat us,” Lee said. “It kind of showed us that we can’t take anyone for granted.

“This was the first time I’ve ever won at Incline. We’re pretty much planning on playing them in the second game.”

Whittell’s first opponent Friday, Tonopah, knows exactly what the Warriors can do. In the four meetings between the two teams, the closest game was a nine-run win for Whittell.

If this week’s practices are any indication, the Muckers could be in trouble.

“We’re working hard practicing fundatmental baseball,” Amaral said. “We had our best practice the other day; it was like studying for a final exam.

“We’re looking forward to going up there and playing.”

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