Nevada City nails down Junior title
AUBURN – Chances are, when the Nevada City Junior Little League All Stars return to Auburn’s James Field Tuesday night, the public address announcer won’t be mispronouncing Kelsey Wirick’s name as he did Saturday night.
Wirick (pronounced “Y-rick”) certainly gave those on hand plenty of reason to remember him Saturday, as the 14-year-old catcher played a key role in powering Nevada City to a 15-0, five-inning rout of Bear River in the District 11, Area 2 Junior All Stars Championship.
The win was the second in a week for Bear River over Nevada City, as well as the second pitching victory starter Travis Lance scored against the same team. Last Monday, Nevada City opened tournament play with a 4-2 win over Bear River.
This time, Lance was even more stingy than the first time he faced Bear River’s bunch.
Though Lance, an incoming freshman at Nevada Union this fall, only collected four strikeouts in the five innings he pitched, Bear River managed just two hits against the righthander all night.
“Awesome,” is how Wirick, who had the best view, described his pitcher’s performance. “He had mad movement (on his pitches) tonight.”
In addition to his work with Lance behind the plate, Wirick also starred as Nevada City’s leadoff man, stuffing the scorebook with nearly every offensive statistic possible.
Wirick, who also will attend NU in the fall, wound up the night with a 2-for-2 performance at the plate, including a double, four runs driven in, three runs scored, two stolen bases and two walks – including one in the first inning in which he took a fastball to the back of the helmet to reach safely.
But he also was quick to point out that he wasn’t exactly alone in producing the offensive highlights.
“We haven’t really shown that (offensive capability) all tournament-long,” he said. “This, though, really shows our possibilities.”
Nevada City led 1-0 after one inning, but it was the patience at the plate shown in the second that sparked the rout. Bear River’s Vince Viola walked three straight Nevada City batters, before being relieved by Bryan Sibis, who gave up a two-out, three-run double by Wirick. Nevada City shortstop Corey Browning followed by doubling Wirick across for a 5-0 lead and Nevada City never looked back.
“I think our boys just came in a little more confident and ready to play,” said Nevada City manager Curtis Wirick. “You’ve got to give Bear River credit. They had to battle back through the loser’s bracket and to just be here is something.”
After falling in its tournament opener, Bear River bounced back to beat Grass Valley (12-6), Auburn (7-1) and Penn Valley (7-2) before getting a second shot at Nevada City.
Nevada City, on the other hand, made things look relatively easy after that initial 4-2 win, returning to work Thursday for a 9-5 victory over Penn Valley to land a spot in the title game.
But if there was any remaining doubt as to which team was truly the tops of the Junior division, Nevada City dispelled such notions in the third inning Saturday, flexing some muscle with a nine runs on seven hits to blow the championship contest open at 14-0.
“That’s a big statement,” said Curtis Wirick. “And it shows that the potential is unlimited with these guys.
“The biggest thing has been getting them to the point that they can believe in themselves. I think tonight we got a glimpse of that.”
In addition to Wirick’s prolific night at the plate, Josh Rice racked up two hits, two runs scored and an RBI, while Lance also had two hits, two runs batted in and a run scored.
Nevada City returns to action today, traveling to Rocklin for a 7 p.m. matchup against the hosts in the first game of the District 11 championship series.
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