Warriors second in baseball regionals
BATTLE MOUNTAIN – The Whittell High baseball team is headed to its fourth straight state tournament after beating Lovelock 13-3 in the regional semifinals on Saturday.
The Warriors, who won the 2A state title in 2001, fell short of the regional championship with a 13-11 loss to top-seeded Battle Mountain in the final. The two teams have met in the regional final in each of the last three years, with the Longhorns coming out on top every time.
“Well, we’ll probably get another shot at (Battle Mountain) at state,” Whittell head coach Don Amaral said. “There’s a lot of rivalry there. If we do hook up again, it could be a different story.”
Whittell needed only five innings to beat Lovelock, with the final run coming on a squeeze bunt by Brian Vogt. Chris Shapiro pitched a complete game for the Warriors, giving up all three Mustang runs in the fourth inning but more than compensating with three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs.
With all nine starters batting better than .300 coming into the regionals, the Warriors’ bats stayed hot as they banged out 12 hits against Lovelock and 18 against Battle Mountain.
Both teams looked tired in the final, combining for 16 errors in a marathon game that lasted nearly three hours. Down 13-6 after five innings, Whittell battled back with a two-run homer by Chris Pavich in the sixth and three more in the seventh, all with two outs.
Pavich, who also homered against Lovelock, came to the plate with two runners on, but the Longhorns replaced starting pitcher Brian Lenz and went to ace Tim Andersen. The big lefty reared back for a strikeout to end the game, sending Whittell to the state tournament as the second seed out of the North.
“That’s not how I wanted the game to end, but we’re pretty happy to be going to state,” said Pavich, who joins fellow senior Sho Kashima as the last remnants of Whittell’s state champion team of 2001. “That was our goal coming up here and we got it done.”
The Warriors will open the state tournament against Faith Lutheran, the winner of the Southern 2A regional, at 9 a.m. on Friday at Wooster High School in Reno. Battle Mountain follows against White Pine in the double-elimination tournament.