Youngster schools WHS
GARDNERVILLE – The varsity baseball teams from Whittell High and Dayton High are well-matched. They both have great hitting, good pitching and decent defense. But Dayton has a secret weapon that the Warriors simply can’t match: a junior varsity team.
With both teams facing key league doubleheaders this weekend the Dust Devils called up junior varsity pitcher Jayce Dillie for Thursday’s game against Whittell. Dillie responded to the promotion with aplomb, throwing a complete game to lead Dayton to an 8-4, nonleague victory.
Dillie, a junior, cruised through the first five innings as the only Whittell baserunner to reach third base got there due to a balk. Although the Warriors (15-12 overall) battled back with three runs in the sixth inning and brought the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh, they couldn’t manage to complete a comeback.
“I was a little bit nervous to start out, but things went pretty well and I relaxed a little,” Dillie said. “They started to get at me in the end, but we held on.”
Dayton (14-5) scored four runs in five innings off of Whittell starter Danny Shapiro, who settled down in the middle innings. The Dust Devils then broke the game open with four runs in the sixth, all attributed to reliever Ryan Gosh. The rally was extended by two straight sacrifice bunts that the Warriors turned into fiascoes.
Tommy Esquivel came on in relief of Gosh, who got only one out, and was impressive in putting down the top of the Dayton lineup.
“I was very pleased with the pitching by Danny and Tommy and our infield play was pretty good,” Whittell head coach Don Amaral said. “We just messed up a couple of bunt situations and we’ll work on that (Friday).”
Whittell hosts Hawthorne in a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Second-place Hawthorne (7-1 Northern 2A) holds a one-game lead over the Warriors in the league standings and the second seed will receive a first-round bye in the regional playoffs.
“Today’s game didn’t mean a lot. It was just practice for Saturday,” Amaral said. “Saturday are probably the biggest games we’ve played since I’ve been at Whittell.”
That’s saying quite a bit since the Amaral led the Warriors to a state championship three years ago. His players have lot on their minds these days, with midterm exams this week and the junior-senior prom on Friday night. Amaral has given them a 1 a.m. Saturday curfew but doesn’t have any way to enforce it.
“It’s really up to each individual player deciding what’s important,” said senior Chris Pavich, who will be the starting pitcher in one of Saturday’s games. “All we can do is hope everyone is responsible and gets plenty of sleep.”