Whittell, Dayton prepare to play it again
Both teams entering today’s Northern Nevada 3A baseball battle do so on the heels of a loss, and both are banged up from the schedule so far.
Yet, neither Whittell High (7-5 overall, 3-1 in Northern Nevada 3A play) nor Dayton (17-4, 4-1) is out of the picture, and neither is ready to concede. “We’ve got to step back into the picture because we’ve got Whittell (today) and Hawthorne this weekend,” said Dust Devils head coach Craig Miller, whose team stumbled to a 20-2 defeat at the hands of Fernley on Wednesday after handing Whittell its first league loss, 9-5 in Dayton on April 5.
Nor is Whittell, resurgent under first-year head coach Don Amaral and in a dead heat with Dayton for second in league behind Manogue, ready to give in after losing once to the Dust Devils.
“We just need to get some hits in key spots,” Amaral said. “We played them tough in Dayton, and the wind won’t be blowing the way it did.
“We can hit ’em,” Amaral said. “We can hit their best pitcher.”
Even with the wind making it tough to field in gusty Dayton, Whittell didn’t play poorly with Dayton’s top pitcher Bobby Nylen on the mound. In fact, the Warriors didn’t struggle as much in putting runners on base as they did in coming up with key hits. As such, several Warriors were stranded.
“If we just get a couple of key hits, it’s a different ball game,” Amaral said.
Yet, Dayton’s victory was Phyrric and Whittell’s loss equally costly. The Dust Devils lost Nylen for two to three weeks when he separated his shoulder sliding into the plate, and Whittell lost Brandon Lee to a pulled muscle on a pickoff play in the third inning. That forces Shane Van Zant (6-1 as a starter) to the mound for Dayton to face off against Bryce Schussel (2-1). Both relieved the starters in last Thursday’s game.
Both pitchers will be throwing on a few days’ rest. Schussel hasn’t pitched since Thursday, and Miller held Van Zant out of Wednesday’s non-league game. Miller said Lee and Schussel both had improved from last year, and Whittell had as well.
“They play more fundamental baseball, not just going through the motions,” Miller said. “I just think you’ve got to go out and play the game and not get caught up in all the little games that go on in the middle of the game.”
Amaral has been drilling his team on the situations where Dayton’s aggressive base-running has paid off in steals. But he clearly indicated Whittell can show how far it has come if it can take care of the fundamentals.
“We just have to play strong, smart defense and we can play with these guys,” he said.
Whittell and Dayton face off at 4 p.m. today at Lampe Park in Gardnerville.
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