Vikings win border clash with Warriors
CARSON CITY – Ryan Cullen proved his point Thursday afternoon.
The South Tahoe High senior wanted to prove to his crosstown foes, the Whittell Warriors, that Viking baseball is back.
“All last summer they were saying they could beat us,” said Cullen, who was the starting pitcher for the Vikings. “I was just trying to make a point.”
Cullen made his point with his bat and his arm as he struck out nine and blasted a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning as the Vikings beat the Warriors 6-1 in the opening game for both squads in the Carson Preseason Invitational tournament.
Cullen’s blast came in the fifth inning off sophomore Tyson Fredericks. Cullen saw a belt-high fastball and pounded it into deep left-center field.
“His pitch was just right,” Cullen said. “It was a little slower than Brandon’s (Lee), so I was able to jump on it.”
Matt Tillson reached base just ahead of Cullen on a Warrior error and came around to score on Cullen’s bomb to push the final score to 6-1.
Cullen was matched with Whittell’s Lee and the two battled it out on the mound for the first two innings before Whittell committed some errors and Lee uncorked a few wild pitches in the second and third innings.
Lee held the Vikings scoreless in opening frame, but in the second inning, the senior lost his control momentarily after surrendering a leadoff double to John Capitani.
Capitani then came around to score on an infield error and a wild pitch by Lee.
“I just lost a little bit of control there in the second,” said Lee who struck out five Vikings in four innings. “I just got rattled a little bit, but the guys came up with some big plays.
“Kyle (Olsen) made a great catch and Brett (Schussel) did a great job behind the plate.”
Cory Poulen, who reached base on the error, also came around to score on a passed ball to make the score 2-1 Vikings.
Whittell got on the board first in the bottom of the first when Lee walked with two outs in the inning. Thomas Hunter followed with a double, putting runners on second and third.
A pass ball from Cullen gave the Warriors the early lead at 1-0.
“If the wind isn’t blowing in, it’s 2-0,” Warrior coach Don Amaral said. “Thomas hit the ball that hard.”
As it was, the Warriors had to settle for the one run as Cullen retired the next batter to get out of the inning.
“That’s just Ryan. The first inning he’s usually feeling the other team out,” Viking coach Doug Russell said. “By the second inning, he’s usually got his ‘A’ game going.
“But you’ve got to take your hat off to Whittell. They played a great game. They made a few errors. Both our runs came from pass balls (before Cullen’s home run), and we’re in no position to take that for granted.”
South Tahoe continues in the tournament Friday with games against Lowry and White Pine. The Vikings will face both Bishop and Fallon on Saturday.
The Warriors will face Fernley and Bishop on Friday and Truckee and Carson on Saturday.
South Tahoe 021 02 -5
Whittell 100 00 -4
E-WHS 3, STHS 0 DP-none. 2B-Hunter (WHS), Capitani (STHS), 3B-none HR-Cullen (STHS) (1). SB-none. CS-Lee (WHS). SO – Cullen (9), Lee (5).
WP – Cullen (1-0), Lee (0-1).
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