Whittell baseball sweeps Eureka, remains unbeaten
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — The Whittell baseball team faced a test last Saturday — and passed to remain undefeated on the season. The Warriors swept Eureka 15-7 and 11-1 in a doubleheader at Lampe Park, extending their unbeaten streak to 12 games.
“They were 3-0 in league coming in, so it was good,” Warriors head coach Devin Ruby said. “We’re in pretty good shape right now as far as everything goes.”
In the first game, Whittell (12-0, 5-0 IV Northern) started fast and held on for a 15-7 win. The Warriors opened up a 12-0 lead before withstanding a comeback attempt from visiting Eureka (4-5-1, 3-2).
“They made a little comeback, which we were okay with,” Ruby said. “We haven’t really seen that in a while — they made it 12-7 and I wanted to see how we would respond.”
Whittell opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning — after Chris Evans and Colton Ruby hit back-to-back singles, Evans scored on a passed ball to make it 1-0. Already ahead, the Warriors broke the game open in the second.
In the bottom of the second, Whittell scored seven runs on five hits. After Troy Libert drew a bases-loaded walk, Jake Sharp, Evans, Ruby and Kai Mangiaracina produced run-scoring hits — Mangaracina’s two-run single put the Warriors up 8-0.
Whittell added to its lead in the next frame, scoring four runs in the bottom of the third. That rally included a bases-loaded walk to Evans and a two-run single by Ruby.
Ahead 12-0 after three innings, Whittell appeared on its way to a 10-run rule win over Eureka — but the visitors had other ideas. The Vandals scored one in the top of the fourth, then added six more in the fifth following the Warriors’ only scoreless inning of the contest.
In the top of the fifth, Eureka cut Whittell’s lead to 12-7 against three Warriors pitchers. Sharp started the inning, but was taken out after loading the bases — right-hander Quinn Kixmiller replaced him, and allowed three runs on a double and hit by pitch.
Still without an out, Whittell turned to Ruby to replace Kixmiller. The sophomore allowed three runs before striking out the side, allowing the Warriors to escape while still in front by a comfortable margin.
Whittell answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to stretch its lead to 15-7. Ruby stayed in the game and struck out Eureka in order in the sixth and seventh to secure the victory.
“The kids responded well to them scoring some runs — we shut them down and scored some more runs,” Ruby said.
Ruby and Evans had three hits apiece to lead Whittell in the win — Ruby went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs while Evans was 3-for-4 with four runs. Sharp finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and Mangiaracina was 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
“The middle of the lineup is really strong right now — as long as Jake and Chris keep getting on base, we’ll keep scoring a lot runs,” Ruby said.
On the mound, Sharp picked up the win after lasting four innings — he allowed four runs on two hits, striking out four while walking two and hitting one. Ruby closed the door in relief, throwing three innings and getting all nine outs via the strikeout — he allowed one run on one hit and walked one.
In the second game, Whittell completed the sweep with an 11-1 win in five innings. Behind a strong performance from starting pitcher Peyton Galli and clutch two-out hitting, the Warriors downed the Vandals to win their 12th straight.
Eureka opened the scoring with an unearned run in the top of the first — then Whittell answered with 11 straight runs. The Warriors scored three runs in the next half-inning with four straight singles as part of a two-out rally.
Ruby and Galli singled to start the rally, and Mangiaracina made it 1-1 with an RBI single. In the next at-bat, Nic Buchholz put Whittell in front 3-1 with a two-run single.
The Warriors added to their lead in the bottom of the third with run-scoring singles from Buchholz and Sam Berry that made it 5-1. In the next two innings, Whittell put the game away with a pair of two-out rallies.
In the bottom of the fourth, Whittell scored five runs with two outs. A Sharp walk followed by singles from Evans and Ruby loaded the bases for Galli, who made it 7-1 with a two-run single.
After Galli scored on an error to put the Warriors up 8-1, a Buchholz RBI single gave them an eight-run lead. Mangiaracina capped the scoring on a double steal for Whittell’s fifth run of the frame.
“We scored a lot of runs with two outs and guys on — we just weren’t leaving them on base,” Ruby said.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kixmiller drew a two-out walk — and used aggressive baserunning once aboard to end the game. The junior stole second and third before scoring on a wild pitch to enact the 10-run rule.
Buchholz had a team-high three hits in the second game, finishing 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs. Galli went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs while Ruby was 2-for-3 with two runs — Berry and Mangiaracina each finished 1-for-2 with an RBI.
“With the way we’re hitting the ball, I couldn’t ask for much more,” Ruby said.
After allowing an unearned run in the first, Galli threw four shutout innings en route to a complete game win. He gave up four hits and walked none while striking out nine.
With the sweep of Eureka, Whittell sits atop Div. IV Northern League and is currently the state’s only unbeaten team in Div. IV — Virginia City (5-2, 3-0) is also unbeaten in league play. The Warriors already own wins against five of the eight teams in their league, which puts them in solid shape for a postseason berth.
“Even in the worst-case scenario, we’ll probably the two-seed going into zone — by beating Wells and Eureka, we put ourselves in pretty good position to be one of those final four teams,” Ruby said. “Virginia City is the team to beat as far as the league goes.”
Whittell returned to action Tuesday at Lampe Park against Sierra Lutheran. On Wednesday, the Warriors host Coleville in a doubleheader at Lampe Park starting at 2 p.m.
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