So often in sports it’s not how you start but how you finish that truly matters.
That was the case Thursday at Ted White Field when the Nevada Union baseball team hosted Granite Bay in the second act of a three-game series.
The Miners had Granite Bay on the ropes, leading 3-1 as they headed into the sixth inning, but that’s when the Grizzlies roared for four runs on four hits to go up 5-3, which was enough to take the game.
“It’s brutal,” Nevada Union head coach Ted White said of the Sierra Foothill League competition. “You got to be ready to play everyday, and every little mistake can hurt you, and that’s the thing — we got to play near perfect baseball.”
Nevada Union (8-9, 1-4 SFL) looked poised to take its second game from the No. 2 team in the league after plating three runs in the first inning.
Leadoff hitter Jakob Freele opened the bottom half of the first inning with an infield single. Then, Matt Paruszkiewicz drew a walk to put runners on first and second.
With two on and one out, NU’s cleanup hitter Travis Hansen ripped a double over the left fielder’s head to plate Freele. The very next batter, Nick Eccarius, brought Paruszkiewicz and Hansen across with a base knock that bounced over the third baseman’s head and just past the glove of the shortstop.
The Miners put their leadoff batter on base in four of the first five innings but were unable to take advantage after the first.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times,” White said. “We haven’t been able to get that clutch hit. We move a guy over then leave him stranded there. In high school baseball, momentum is so huge, and we needed to keep adding on, and we didn’t.”
Nevada Union starting pitcher Ryan McCarthy was impressive through the first five innings, allowing just one run on four scattered hits but ran into trouble in the sixth.
A leadoff double by Granite Bay’s Ryan Rosa was followed by an RBI single, then another double. A hit batter loaded the bases, and the Grizzlies took their first lead of the game with a single by Griffin Powers that plated two. Granite Bay added an insurance run with a sac fly.
Down 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Miners struggled to figure out Granite Bay relief pitcher Travis Magness. Nevada Union had chased Granite Bay’s starter after three but couldn’t lock in on Magness.
The lefty junk-baller threw the final four innings for the Grizzlies, striking out six in a row at one point, allowing no hits, no runs and only one walk.
“Hats off to the lefty that came in,” White said. “(Magness) changed speeds well. He was mixing it up and hitting his spots. He shut us down.”
On the day, NU could muster only five hits, all of which came in the first three innings. Freele, Eccarius, Kyle Upton, Hansen and Joey Souza all had a hit in the game. A bright spot for the Miner defense, which committed four errors on the day, was the play at catcher by Dylan Conger. The talented junior gunned out the only two Grizzlies that dare try to steal. Conger also threw out three would-be base stealers in NU’s Tuesday victory of Granite Bay.
The series is now tied at 1-1 with NU traveling Saturday to Granite Bay for the rubber game.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.