Whittell baseball makes statement to start league, sweeps defending champion Wells
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — The Whittell baseball team made a convincing statement to open Div. IV Northern League play. The Warriors swept defending league champion Wells in a doubleheader Saturday at Lampe Park, delivering a pair of 12-2 victories over the Leopards.
“We were obviously nervous and excited at the same time going into the games — they’re one of the teams to beat,” Warriors head coach Devin Ruby said. “It was nice beating them.”
In the first game, Whittell (9-0, 2-0 IV Northern) scored 12 unanswered runs after falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The Warriors scored four times in the bottom of the sixth to enact the 10-run rule and secure the win.
Wells (3-5, 0-2) led off the game with a single, and took a 2-0 lead on a triple with an error in the next at-bat. Whittell answered in the bottom half of the frame, scoring five runs on three hits while capitalizing on Leopards’ miscues.
In the bottom of the first, five of Whittell’s first six batters reached based safely. After Jake Sharp advanced to first on a dropped third strike and Chris Evans walked, Colton Ruby smacked a two-run single to left-center field to tie the game.
Peyton Galli and Nic Buchholz each singled in the Warriors’ next two at-bats, with Buchholz’s hit making it 3-2. Three balks by Wells’ pitcher scored Galli and Buchholz, putting Whittell ahead 5-2 after one.
Both teams settled in defensively after a high-scoring first inning, resulting in scoreless frames in the second, third and fourth. In the bottom of the fifth, Whittell broke the stalemate and added to its lead.
The Warriors scored three runs on three hits in the fifth to take a six-run lead. Galli scored Ruby with an RBI single then scored on a Kai Mangiaracina single — after reaching first, Mangiaracina stole second and third, and scored on a passed ball to make it 8-2.
After holding Wells scoreless in the top of the sixth, Whittell ended the game with a four-run frame — a rally started when a pitch hit Armando Rodriguez. Rodriguez scored two batters later, and then run-scoring hits from Sharp, Ruby and Galli sealed the game.
Ruby went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs in the win while Galli finished 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs. Buchholz and Mangiaracina each were 1-for-3 with an RBI — as a team, the Warriors stole eight bases.
On the mound, Sharp threw five scoreless innings after a shaky start. The senior struck out four while allowed six hits and a walk in the complete game victory.
In the second game of the twinbill, the Warriors jumped on Wells early and rolled to a 12-2 win. The Warriors scored five runs in the bottom of the first and never trailed in the 10-run victory.
Sharp got Whittell’s first-inning rally started by swiping second and third after a leadoff single. Evans got the Warriors on the board with a single that scored Sharp — Ruby and Mangiaracina also had RBI singles as part of the five-run frame.
Wells got on the board with a run in the next half-inning to make it 5-1. Whittell then stretched its lead back to five runs in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Sam Berry — and scored four more in the fourth to take control of the contest.
The Leopards scored a run in the top of the sixth to cut Whittell’s lead to 10-2. Then the Warriors ended the game in the next half-inning with a two-out rally.
With two outs, Buchholz and Mangiaracina each drew walks then advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch. After Buchholz scored on a passed ball, Berry delivered a run-scoring single to enact the 10-run rule and complete the sweep.
“We’re really getting a lot of stuff from five, six and seven — they’re really coming through,” Ruby said of Berry, Buchholz and Mangiaracina. “We just didn’t have that last year.”
Ruby, Evans, Sharp and Berry each went 2-for-4 in the second game victory — Ruby had two RBIs, Evans had a double and an RBI and Berry finished with an RBI. Mangiaracina was 1-for-2 with an RBI and Buchholz had a hit.
On the mound, Galli and Ruby combined to stymie Wells for the second straight game. Galli started and pitched four innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out nine and walking one — Ruby threw two innings of relief, striking out three while allowing a hit and a walk.
With the sweep, Whittell handed Wells its first league losses in two seasons. The Leopards ran the table in league play in 2014 en route to the championship, and finished the season as state runner-up in Div. IV.
“It’s a statement to our team that we can play with anybody in the league — that’s the biggest thing,” Ruby said. “Now they’re confident — and that’s where I wanted them to be when we started league.”
Whittell returned to action Tuesday when it hosted Smith Valley at Lampe Park. On Saturday, the Warriors host Eureka in a doubleheader at Lampe Park — the first game is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.