Bullets win two games
RENO – When Nevada Bullets manager Jim Blueberg sent assistant coach Jeremiah Libke out to start Friday’s Sertoma Baseball Classic opener against RBI Baseball, he had an ulterior motive.
He wanted to show his pitching staff that location and guile were just as, if not more important, than velocity.
Libke scattered six hits and didn’t allow an earned run in his 73-pitch effort, as the Bullets’ A team grabbed a 5-1 victory at Bishop Manogue High School.
Not to be outdone, WNC’s Tyler Spencer allowed four hits and no earned runs in sparking the Bullets to a 6-3 win over the NorCal Bulls.
The two wins assures the Bullets of reaching the single-elimination portion of the tournament on Sunday. The Bullets wrap up pool play at 11:45 a.m. against the Seals.
Libke was forced into service after a team dropped out, forcing the Bullets to add a couple of players and split into two teams.
“We needed Jeremiah to throw,” Blueberg said. “I wanted to show our guys that you don’t have to throw hard to get people out. He wasn’t even breaking 80 and he throws a complete game. He should have had a shutout.
“You have to be able to work the ball in and out; live on the edges. You can’t live in the middle of the plate no matter how hard you throw.”
The Bullets’ injury riddled pitching staff has had problems in the past two weeks. Libke’s effort was the best of the season.
Libke hadn’t pitched in a real game since his high school days at Bishop Gorman. As WNC’s assistant coach, he threw batting practice all the time so his arm is in good shape.
“I threw a little during the week; just played catch,” Libke said. “I just came out and pitched.”
A local scout said Libke got to 81 twice, but he was mostly in the mid-to-high 70s.
The Bullets took a 1-0 lead in the third when WNC star Chris Woolley hit a solo homer. The Bullets eventually loaded the bases, but Colby Blueberg flied out to right to end the rally.
The losers put runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth, but Libke got Chris Kunz to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
Nevada took control in the bottom of the fourth with four runs. Craig Merideth led off the inning with a solo homer, and then Woolley drove in two more with a double. The last run came on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Taylor.
RBI put runners on first and second again with two outs, but Libke retired Tyler Eppler to end the inning.
Libke allowed an unearned run in the seventh when Ryan Schalloe’s hard slide into second forced Colby Blueberg to make an off-balance throw which went out of play enabling Nolan Kipp to score from second base.
Woolley was the hitting star in the second game, too. His sixth-inning double scored Ray Daniels to snap a 3-all tie, and the Bullets went on to score two more runs on a sacrifice fly by Taylor and a two-out error.
Spencer sailed through the first three innings, allowing only a two-out triple to Kenny Travis in the first. He relied mostly on his fastball after the second inning. At one point, he retired 14 of 17 hitters.
The Bulls took a 2-1 lead in the fourth, scoring twice on an error by Blueberg, a double by Rowdy Tellez and a run-scoring infield out by Mason Hastings.
Nevada went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring double by Blueberg and a run-scoring single by Daniels, who went 3-for-3 in the second game.
The Bulls tied the game in the top of the sixth with an unearned run, as Travis scored on a passed ball.
That set the stage for the bottom of the sixth when Daniels singled, advanced to second on a bunt single by Tim Lewis, who later admitted that he was tagged along the first-base line. Woolley snapped the tie with his aforementioned double and Taylor followed with the sacrifice fly.
Spencer admitted he was tired after the game.
“I think I threw well,” Spencer said. “That’s one of the best games I’ve pitched. I kept going inside with my fastball and they weren’t hitting it.”
“When you get good pitching performances they give you a chance to win,” the elder Blueberg said. “Spencer looked good out there.”
NOVATO KNICKS 5, BULLETS (B) 4
RENO – The Knicks scored all five of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to grab a first-day victory.
The Bullets play twice today at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Dayton grad Conner Oliver had two hits for the Bullets.