WHS wins first game
MESQUITE, Nev. – The Whittell Warriors are out to prove that even though they come from an area where skiing and snowboarding dominate the landscape, they aren’t out of their element in a state baseball tournament.
On Thursday, the Whittell nine took its first step to claiming the Nevada 2A title for the first time since 1979 as the Warriors toppled the Needles Mustangs 10-2 in 100-degree heat.
Senior hurler Brandon “The General” Lee didn’t seem to notice the heat all that much, throwing six innings of one-hit ball and Thomas “Home Run” Hunter’s bat was as hot as the desert sun, blasting a pair of two-run homers.
“I told (Hunter) he was going to have a enormous game,” Warrior manager Don Amaral said.
While almost all the Warrior hitters delivered big hits, it took them an inning to adjust to Needles’ hard-throwing starter Josh Smith.
It wasn’t until the second inning that the Warriors caught up to the senior’s heat.
Matt Olsen sparked the second-inning scoring binge when he beat out an infield hit, right before Hunter smashed his first jimmyjack of the game to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead.
“I’ve just been seeing the ball well,” said Hunter, who has four home runs in the last two games. “All I saw was fastballs and I tried to go to the opposite field like I was doing last season.”
Whittell added another run in the third inning and three more in the fifth before breaking the contest open in the sixth.
In the fifth, Chris Hannum doubled and Joe Piccola reached on fielder’s choice. Then Lee drew a walk to load the bases. Olsen flew out to medium left field and Hannum was gunned down at the plate by a great throw, leaving Piccola on third and Lee at first.
With two outs, sophomore Tyson Frederick slapped a single back up the middle, scoring both Piccola and Lee.
“Tyson really broke open the game for us with that hit,” Lee said.
The General took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before surrendering a running-scoring double to Smith.
“I knew I had a no-hitter, but I wasn’t worried about that,” said Lee, who sttuck out 10. “I just wanted to beat these guys. They’re the second-best team in the tournament and we just beat their (butts).”
Lee’s momentary lapse continued into the fifth, giving up another run after hitting two Mustangs.
But Lee then settled down and fanned the next two Mustangs to escape the inning.
The Warriors answered a Mustang rally that closed the game to 6-2 with four runs of their own.
Senior Joe Piccola drew a walk and was driven in by Lee, who laced a double down the left-field line.
Olsen then stung another double into right-center field before Hunter launched another bomb deep into the Nevada desert.
Whittell will take the field today at 10 a.m. and face the Hawthorne/Needles winner.
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