Warriors play beach ball vs. Nighthawks
GARDNERVILLE – Baseball is a game inundated by statistics, but only two are needed to analyze Whittell High’s doubleheader against Silver Stage High on Thursday: 28 hits and 25 outs.
The Warriors bashed the ball all over the park in beating Silver Stage 21-6 and 14-4, both in five innings, at Lampe Park. Every Whittell starter got at least two hits and drove in at least two runs in the Northern 2A Division doubleheader.
Whittell head coach Don Amaral credited his team’s experience against some of the nation’s top teams at the Vegas Easter Classic last week for the offensive outburst.
“We just pounded the ball today and it has a lot to do with the competition we faced last week, even though we lost all four games,” Amaral said. “In practice this week the guys have all been saying the ball looks like a beach ball compared to the pitching they faced in Vegas.”
Whittell center fielder Ryan Gosh, who went 5 for 6 with five runs and four RBIs on Thursday, agreed with his coach.
“We were just on the ball big time today,” Gosh said. “We’re all seeing the ball really well out there.”
The first game was simply a formality after the first two innings as Chris Shapiro and Sho Kashima combined to keep the Nighthawks’ hitters from putting together big innings. Kashima was also a sparkplug at the top of the Whittell lineup, getting three hits, including two doubles, and producing two runs and two RBIs.
The second game didn’t start well for the Warriors as starter Marcus Mellberg gave up four runs. He was yanked after the inning for Chris Pavich, but not because he was being hit hard – two of the Nighthawks’ hits were bloopers down the left-field line, and another was a dribbler that spun crazily off the pitcher’s mound – but because his pitching shoulder, which was surgically repaired last year, was bothering him.
Pavich quieted the Silver Stage bats effectively, throwing four innings of two-hit shutout ball. Although the senior racked up only two strikeouts, he kept the Nighthawks off-balance with a good mix of fastballs on the corners and breaking balls.
“I just try to get good placement on my pitches,” he said. “If I put the ball in the right places, I know my defense will back me up.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors scored 13 runs in four innings and needed only one more in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early. Dan Shapiro blasted a triple to right-center before his brother, Chris, brought him home with a line-drive single.
The Warriors (11-10 overall, 6-2 Northern 2A) are alone in second place behind undefeated Battle Mountain and that’s right where Amaral hopes to stay heading into the regional playoffs. For that to happen, his players will need to keep their hot bats sizzling.
“We want that second seed and the bye it would give us,” Amaral said. “We’ve still got to get by Hawthorne and Incline. They each have one pitcher who could give us a lot of trouble.”