Warriors can’t figure out sidearm delivery at state
RENO – Doom, thy name is Iodence.
A day after striking out the side in the seventh to preserve Faith Lutheran High’s 7-6 win over Whittell High in the opening game of the Nevada 2A state baseball tournament, Crusader ace Ryan Iodence set down the last 11 Warriors in order in a 5-4 win on Saturday morning that ended Whittell’s season.
The Crusaders held Whittell to seven hits in the second game, the first time the Warriors had fewer than 12 in the postseason.
Whittell scored two runs in both the second and third innings off of Faith Lutheran starter Sean Brown, with Danny Shapiro’s home run in the third the key blow.
Chris Shapiro, starting his second game in less than 24 hours, held the Crusaders to three runs in four innings despite taking a line drive on his pitching elbow off the bat of Nadim Amin in the second. But after throwing 115 pitches against White Pine High in a 10-8 win on Friday, the younger Shapiro couldn’t finish the game.
Whittell’s other mound mainstay, senior Chris Pavich, started the fifth and was greeted by an Erik Wood triple and Ryan Moldt single to tie the score at 4-4. Moldt stole second base and went to third when Tommy Esquivel’s throw got past second baseman Jerel Dutton, then scored the go-ahead run on Amin’s groundout to shortstop.
Meanwhile, the fireballing Iodence was mowing down the Warriors. With a sidearm motion and 89-mile-per-hour fastball, Iodence struck out five of the 11 Whittell batters he faced and got the other six on soft ground balls.
“(Iodence) is the toughest pitcher we faced this year,” Chris Shapiro said. “He throws the hardest and that funky delivery he’s got makes it real hard to pick up the ball.”
Faith Lutheran went on to win its second consecutive state championship with two 9-0 and 14-0 shutouts of Battle Mountain.
Whittell advanced to face Faith Lutheran on Saturday with a win over White Pine High in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament at Wooster High School. The Warriors battered White Pine starter Quinn Ewell for 10 hits over six innings, with Danny Shapiro racking up four RBIs.
They also got a key contribution from left fielder Brian Hanshew, who was playing only because Marcus Mellberg tore up his knee earlier in the week. Hanshew reached base twice and scored a run, but it was a running catch deep in the gap to end a White Pine threat in the sixth inning that brought the crowd to its feet. Dutton also made a leaping catch in the inning, one of four outstanding plays by the wild-haired second baseman in the tournament.
But what appeared to be an easy win at 10-3 heading into the seventh inning exposed Whittell’s weakness: a lack of pitching depth.
With Pavich having thrown the opener against Faith Lutheran and Chris Shapiro at his pitch limit, Whittell head coach Don Amaral was forced to go to his bullpen after the Bobcats scored a run and had runners on first and second with one out. Amaral pulled Esquivel from right field and the circus started immediately.
Ron Henze blasted a drive deep to right-center, where Chris Shapiro just missed a diving attempt at the ball. Center fielder Ryan Gosh got the ball quickly, however, and with the White Pine runners getting a late start the relay throw from Dutton got lead runner Ewell at the plate, getting the second out without giving up a run.
Esquivel, however, lost the plate and walked the next three batters on 13 pitches, forcing in two runs and prompting Amaral to go to Brian Vogt. The wildness didn’t stop there, however, as Vogt walked the next two batters without throwing a strike.
Vogt pulled it together long enough to get two strikes on Nick Nicholes, but his next pitch plunked the hitter on the back, forcing in yet another run to pull the Bobcats within two runs. Amaral had no choice but to call Pavich over from third base and the senior stopped the merry-go-round, getting Ewell to pop out to his new third baseman, Vogt.
“I thought I could get someone in there to throw strikes and finish the game, but everything kind of went haywire,” Amaral said. “I really didn’t want to have Pavich pitch again, but it was a must-win game.”
Pavich didn’t seem to mind the extra duty in his final weekend as a Warrior.
“I’m just happy to be part of this team,” he said. “We’ve got such a good bond. I’m glad I spent four years on this team. I can’t imagine any team I would have rather played with.”