Local players help Knights win USABA opener
The Nor Cal Knights, aided by some help from Douglas County, strolled to a 9-1 victory over the Carson Crushers in their opening game of the 15-and-under United States Amateur Baseball Association (USABA) World Series on Saturday afternoon at James Lee Park in Indian Hills.
Nate Whalin, a sophomore-to-be at Douglas High, pitched three shutout innings to pick up the win and helped out his own cause offensively by hitting 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Jeff Young, who will be a junior at Whittell High this coming year, went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
The Knights scored three unearned runs in the second inning to take the lead and then broke away with fourth more runs in the third during a wind-blown game called in the bottom of the fifth inning due to the tournament’s eight-run rule. In all, Carson’s Nick Smallman pitched five-hit ball over four innings, but was hindered by six errors in the field.
“I thought Nick pitched a heckuva game, we just gave up a couple of errors,” Carson manager Roy Good said. “If we had played better defensively, we would have had a better chance of staying in the game.”
The Crushers were up against a Nor Cal squad that includes high school players from Will C. Wood High in Vacaville, Natomas, Winters and Rio Linda in the Sacramento area, as well as Northern Nevada.
“We decided to put this team together two weeks ago and it’s a very good team, a fantastic group of kids,” said Knights manager Joey Davis, who has accepted a position as Whittell High’s Athletic Director at Lake Tahoe for the coming school year. “We played five games just to get prepared for this tournament and went 2-3 against 16- and 18-year-old teams.”
Carson took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Nor Cal starter Steven Zeegers. Snallman reached base on a two-out error, advanced on Josh Caron’s base hit and then scored when Brooks Greenlee singled down the third base line.
Whalin came on to pitch after Zeegers developed a tender arm.
“His arm was a little sore so we decided to take him out and rest him for another day,” Davis said. “Nate came in and threw very well.”
Whalin gave up a walk and single to Smallman in the third inning, but worked out of danger with a strikeout and ground out. The 6-foot-3 right hander allowed a leadoff hit in the fourth, but retired the next three batters on two strikeouts and a pop foul. He set the side down in order in the fifth, including one more strikeout.
Meanwhile, the Knights scored three times in the second to take a lead they never gave up. Young reached on a high infield chopper that drove one run home, then he scored on Whalin’s single to right. Lorenzo Tiscareno followed with a double to left that drove in another run and made it 3-1. Nor Cal would have done even more damage if not for a diving stop by Carson second baseman Sean Costella, who got up in time to throw out the batter to lead off the inning.
Chris Webb singled to lead off the third then Chris Brempell and Alex Jurado walked to load the bases. Niel Brook walked to force one run home, Gabe Delgado drove in another run on a ground out, Young followed with a sacrifice fly to center field and Whalin’s RBI single down the third base line made it 7-1.
The Knights ended the game with one run in the fifth. Kyle Gerring drew a leadoff walk, stole second and appeared ready to score when Young lined a shot to deep center field. But Smallman, who had just moved to center field in the fifth, ran down the ball and made an over-the-shoulder catch. The Knights got their run home when Brian Peat delivered a two-out single to right that brought Gerring home.
The Crushers resume play in the round robin portion of the USABA World Series with two games today at James Lee Park – at 1 p.m. against the Nevada Warriors from Las Vegas and at 7 p.m. against the East Side Thunder from Seattle. The Nor Cal Knights play the Sonora (Calif.) Sasquatch at 10 this morning.