Whittell’s Ruby wins Div. IV Northern League Pitcher of the Year; six earn All-League recognition
The Whittell baseball team enjoyed a stellar 2015 season that eventually led to a runner-up finish in the Div. IV state tournament — and has a few more accolades to celebrate. Six Warriors earned All-League recognition in Div. IV Northern League, highlighted by sophomore right-hander Colton Ruby winning Pitcher of the Year.
Ruby won one of the league’s two major awards — Most Valuable Player honors went to Virginia City’s Clint Hess, who ultimately led the Muckers to the state championship. After battling an arm injury early in the season Ruby finished 8-1 with a 1.90 ERA, striking out 70 batters in 41 innings.
“Colton won all of our big games and was the only pitcher to beat Virginia City — and then he won again in zone and state,” Whittell coach Devin Ruby said. “He certainly deserved Pitcher of the Year and the league thought so too.
After the league meeting, Ruby went on to win a pair of games in regionals and another over Pahranagat Valley (Alamo, Nev.) in the state tournament. He got stronger as the season went on — and pitched better the deeper he got into games.
“In the games we really needed to win, Colton really came through,” Ruby said. “He was throwing harder in the fifth and sixth innings than he was in the second and third.”
Ruby was an All-League first team selection along with senior Jake Sharp and freshman Peyton Galli. Offensively, Ruby hit a team-best .521 with 35 RBIs, 39 runs and 29 stolen bases while batting third in the order.
“Colton and Peyton were right there against any seniors they played against,” Ruby said of Whittell’s underclassmen selections. “To have all that experience and going to state so young, there’s nothing that’s going to intimidate them next year.”
In his first season on the high school level, Galli hit cleanup and emerged as Whittell’s second starting pitcher. At the plate, he finished with a .476 average to go along with 28 RBIs, 42 runs and 21 stolen bases.
“I wasn’t surprised — I know Peyton and I know how he swings the bat,” Ruby said. “He’s always a threat to hit one out or at least hit the ball hard somewhere.”
As the most experienced player on the Warriors’ 2015 roster, Sharp set the tone to help the team bounce back from a three-win season. Batting leadoff and primarily starting at catcher, Sharp hit .370 with a team-high 47 runs, 15 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
“Jake was a fighter and he never quit — he pretty much never gives up,” Ruby said. “He stuck with the program for four years, and after three really bad years he finally got to go to zone and state this season.”
Whittell’s second-team All-League selections included freshman Nic Buchholz, junior Chris Evans and sophomore Kai Mangiaracina. Buchholz provided versatility throughout the campaign, and his move to second in the order midway through the season sparked the Warriors’ offense — he batted .452 with 17 RBIs, 30 runs and 16 stolen bases.
“He’s got a good bat and he got a lot of runs in,” Ruby said.
Mangiaracina was one of the Warriors’ most improved players during the campaign, both at the plate and in the field. He batted sixth in the lineup and ended with a .389 average to go along with 31 runs, 19 RBIs and 18 runs.
“Kai really came through — he ended up having a much better year than I thought and that really helped us,” Ruby said. “He was a completely different player and he had a lot more focus this year.”
Evans batted fifth in the lineup for most of the season, and produced a number of clutch hits in the postseason. He hit .342 with 11 RBIs, 39 runs and 18 stolen bases.
“I always felt with our first four hitters — and even up to fifth and sixth — that we had a chance to explode out of the gates,” Ruby said.
Whittell finished the season with a 26-9 record and ultimately fell two wins shy of a state championship. Five of the Warriors’ six All-League selections are returning next season, and they will likely be favorites to win the league title in 2016.
“We went into the season as the team everybody chalked up as a win to next year probably being the team to beat,” Ruby said.
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