Warriors gain inside track for playoff bye
The Warriors (17-12 overall, 8-2 Northern 2A) jumped ahead of Hawthorne (7-3) in the league standings with their 13-5 and 9-4 wins, putting themselves in second place with one week to go in the regular season. The top two teams receive first-round byes in the regional playoffs on May 14-15.
Whittell hosts Incline High for a doubleheader this Saturday, while Hawthorne will face league leader Battle Mountain High, which has yet to taste defeat to a Northern 2A team. The regionals will be played at the regular-season champion’s home field.
“I like our position right now,” Whittell head coach Don Amaral said. “All we have to do is take one game this weekend and have (Hawthorne) lose one to Battle Mountain and we’ll be where we want to be.”
The story of the Hawthorne wins was Whittell’s Shapiro brothers. Chris, a junior, threw a complete game in the opener, striking out 10 while allowing only seven baserunners. He shook off some shaky fielding by his teammates early in the game and even got two hits to contribute to his own cause. He finished strong, retiring the final 14 Hawthorne hitters.
“Chris got ahead early and took control of the game,” Amaral said. “He was as good as I’ve seen him this year.”
But big brother Danny overshadowed him in the batter’s box, knocking in five runs in the first game and following up with six more RBIs in the second. The senior finished the day with a team-high five hits.
Not to be outdone, Chris had something left in the tank for the nightcap. With starter Chris Pavich struggling with his landing point and command, the younger Shapiro came on in relief with two outs in the fifth inning and a slim 5-4 lead. He got his team out of the jam, then shut down the Hawthorne offense for the rest of the game.
Shapiro’s teammates, meanwhile, exploded for four runs in the sixth inning. Sho Kashima helped the hurler out from behind the plate as well, throwing out two Hawthorne baserunners and covering several bunts as well.