Warriors can make sweep dreams reality
In recent years, the big question surrounding the Whittell-Yerington baseball series has been whether the Warriors could go seven against the Lions.
It’s taken a month for that question to change drastically.
This year, it’s Whittell (6-4 overall, 2-0 in Northern Nevada 3A play) that has the chance to finish the sweep of Yerington (8-4, 3-2) in today’s game. That’s a dramatic departure from the past few years, when Whittell has found it on the lean end of the league’s five-inning, 10-run mercy rule.
“We surprised them the first time,” said first-year Warriors head coach Don Amaral, the leader of a baseball renaissance in Zephyr Cove.
With newfound ace Brandon Lee (5-0 as a starter) on the mound March 21, Whittell beat the Lions 2-0 in Yerington. With Bryce Schussel (1-1) taking over Whittell’s pitching duties this time, Amaral hopes to keep that element of surprise intact.
“They’ve already seen Brandon, so I’m going to pitch Bryce, and Brandon’s going to throw Thursday against Dayton,” Amaral said. “I just want to show them something different.”
While there are small differences between the two pitchers, Amaral insists there’s no dropoff, calling them No. 1 and No. 1A. He said both have good control, although Schussel throws harder. But both are equally well rested with 11 days off since their last action. If Lee starts against Dayton on Thursday, he’ll be coming off 15 days rest.
“Once I go around the order, I want to mix it up and see what the kid struggled with on the first time around,” said Schussel, who pitched an inning of relief in the first win.
“They’re really good ball players,” he said. “Me and Brandon were both really on. As long as our defense is there and we’re throwing strikes, we’re going to be in every game we play.”
Whittell already has shown the league something different, and that’s an entirely different Whittell team. Yerington coach George Ostrander said Whittell was more solid up the middle than previous years, behind good pitching.
“They played really well,” Ostrander said of the first meeting. “They really did. They just made some plays and they played well. In years past, they haven’t been really strong, and this year they were.
“I think it’ll be a close game, and I’m glad Whittell’s playing good,” he said. “I felt sorry for Whittell in the past.”
Ostrander said pitching and hitting are the strengths of his team, and fastballer Billy Snow (3-1) will look to avenge his only loss of the season today. Snow’s only problem in the first game, according to Amaral, was the fielding behind him. Snow, too, is rested.
“He should be pretty sharp,” Ostrander said.
One area where Whittell has improved dramatically is at the plate. The meat of Whittell’s order – Matt Olsen, Lee, Trent Gordon and Thomas Hunter – has been coming up big for Amaral’s club. The team even impressed Amaral with its hitting in its last game, a 17-6 loss at Virginia City on March 27.
“They’re on,” Amaral said.
“We hold them under 3-5 runs, we’re going to give them a run,” Amaral said.
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