Whittell baseball goes unbeaten at Yerington Tournament, improves to 5-0
SMITH, Nev. — In its first big test, the Whittell baseball team made a big statement. The Warriors went undefeated in four games at the Yerington Tournament at Smith Valley High, extending their unbeaten streak to five games to start the 2015 season.
“It’s great to see — it’s great for the kids’ confidence,” Warriors head coach Devin Ruby said. “It was a good weekend.”
Whittell’s tightest contest came in its first game on Saturday, a 6-4 win over Lone Pine (Calif.). The Warriors erased an early deficit to rally past the Golden Eagles and secure their biggest win of the tournament.
“We stayed in there and fought back — and I liked seeing that,” Ruby said. “I wanted to see what our kids would do if we got down like that, and it was great to see — they weren’t rattled, they were all pumped up and they hung in there and battled.”
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The Warriors struck first against Lone Pine, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. Jake Sharp led off the game with a walk and scored the first run two batters later on an RBI groundout from Colton Ruby — later in the frame, Peyton Galli made it 2-0 by scoring on a passed ball with two outs.
Lone Pine got a run back in the bottom of the first, and took a 3-2 lead on a 350-foot, two-run home run to left-center field with two outs in the second. That long ball stunned Whittell — but didn’t faze Sharp on the mound.
“Jake settled down and the team settled down — that rattled him a little bit, but he handled it really well,” Ruby said.
In the next half-inning, the Warriors scored a pair of runs to retake the lead 4-3. Each came as the result of Lone Pine miscues — four straight one-out walks with the bases empty tied the game, and a fielding error allowed Whittell to go back in front.
After a scoreless fourth, Whittell extended its lead with a two-out rally in the fifth. With no one on, Galli lined a ground rule double to left field and Buchholz drew a walk — both advanced into scoring position for Sam Berry, who delivered with a single up the middle to make it 6-3.
“We didn’t get a lot of hits in that game, but we got key hits and took advantage of every mistake they made,” Ruby said. “It was nice to see us scrap for runs and play good defense. We didn’t fall apart — it was really nice to see us be down and come back.”
Lone Pine scored a run in the bottom of the sixth, but Whittell was able to hold on for the victory. Sharp allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out six while walking two to pick up the win.
“Jake was unbelievably mentally tough against Lone Pine,” Ruby said. “After that first inning a lot of guys may have fallen apart — but he wanted the ball and he wanted it every inning.”
In Whittell’s tournament opener Friday, it scored nine unanswered runs to beat Lee Vining (Calif.) 9-1. After allowing a run in the top of the first, the Warriors produced three-run innings in the first, third and fourth to build a commanding lead.
“We threw pretty well and hit the ball really well — we had the game in hand pretty fast,” Ruby said.
Galli went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs in the win and Ruby was 2-for-3 with two RBIs — Sharp, Buchholz and Chris Evans also had hits. On the mound, starter Quinn Kixmiller allowed one run on two hits over three innings — Sharp allowed a hit in one inning of relief.
In their second game Friday, the Warriors rolled to an 8-0 victory over Smith Valley. Whittell blanked the host Bulldogs in a battle between Div. IV Northern League foes.
“That was our first real test,” Ruby said. “Last year in this tournament they beat us 14-0 and 11-0, so to come back here this weekend and be able to handle them was pretty nice.”
Evans, Ruby, Galli, Berry, Buchholz and Kai Mangiaracina each had a hit in the victory. Galli started and threw four shutout innings, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out six.
After beating Lone Pine on Saturday, Whittell closed out tournament play with a 19-0 rout of Coleville (Calif.). The Warriors scored 15 runs in the second inning to make quick work of the Wolves in the five-inning win — Ruby made his first start of the season and scattered a hit and a walk over two innings.
“We wanted to save our arms, get the 10 runs and get out of there — that’s pretty much what we did,” Ruby said.
After winning four days in two games at the Yerington Tournament, Whittell is off to a strong start. In five games, the Warriors have already matched their biggest single-season win total since 2012.
“One of the things we’ve emphasized in practice over and over and over again is getting the ball in and not wasting throws — that’s the stuff we took advantage of this weekend,” Ruby said. “We can’t give that away because we can’t afford to.”
Whittell returned to action Tuesday with a doubleheader against Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) at Lampe Park. The Warriors open league play Saturday with a doubleheader against defending Div. IV Northern champion Wells (Nev.) at Lampe Park starting at 11 a.m. — the Leopards went undefeated in league last season.
“That’s all we’re building toward — Wells this weekend,” Ruby said. “That’s what all this preseason stuff is about.”
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