Archive for March, 2008


Alumni Watch: Ben Colton gets shot at the mound in Pack’s win

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

JOE SANTORO
RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
Posted: 3/09/2008

Ben Colton remembered how to find the mound at Peccole Park.Pitcher Ben Colton

“It’s been a long time,” smiled the Wolf Pack pitcher. “But it sure felt good to be back and to be able to help the team.”

Colton, the last of eight Wolf Pack pitchers, put the finishing touches on a 10-0 Nevada victory Tuesday afternoon against the Pacific Tigers by pitching the ninth inning. The 6-foot-5 right hander, though, didn’t know if he would be able to help the Wolf Pack at all this season.

“No, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in a sling,” the 2003 Reno High graduate said. “But it was a pretty cool situation for me out there. I worked so hard to get back so it was nice to see the hard work pay off.”

Colton, who had surgery on his labrum last Aug. 1, allowed just one hit and threw nine of his 17 pitches for strikes. He took to the mound Tuesday for the first time this season with five new screws in his right shoulder.

“I would have liked to get ahead of hitters better than that,” said Colton, who turned 23 years old last Thursday. “But I’m going to keep a positive attitude and keep working hard.”

“He did well,” Pack coach Gary Powers said. “He went out there and threw the ball over the plate and got people out. That was good to see.”

Colton was 1-3 last season as a junior with a 7.10 earned run average in 21 appearances. It turns out he pitched the entire season with a torn labrum.

“The doctors told me I was probably hurt for more than a year,” Colton said. “My velocity got progressively worse as the year went on but I didn’t know why. My body never really got tired but there was just something missing in my arm.”

The problem became obvious last July.

“I was playing summer ball in San Luis Obispo (Calif.),” Colton said. “And then one day I woke up and couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder.”

Colton, though, didn’t panic. This is a young man, after all, that had endured something a bit more serious than a shoulder injury.

“Yeah,” Colton said. “I’ve been through a lot worse.”

A lot worse was a life-threatening head injury suffered on Oct. 31, 2003. Colton, who was umpiring between the mound and first base after pitching for the College of San Mateo (Calif.), was hit in the temple by a throw from the catcher on an attempted steal of second.

“That was the first time my parents came to visit me, too,” Colton said. “I hadn’t even said hello to them. After I got hit I just went down. That night I was still bleeding from the nose and I continued to throw up. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital signing a living will. The doctors thought I might have a few hours to live.”

He remained in the hospital for two weeks and, luckily, was able to avoid brain surgery. After missing the 2003 season, he did pitch two seasons for San Mateo before transferring to Nevada for the 2006 season.

“I remember the first time I stepped back on the mound at San Mateo,” Colton said. “That was such a special feeling.

“And today was the second time I was able to experience that feeling. Just to come back and to be able to help the team in some way, it’s a feeling I can’t describe.”

Powers, who must choose 26 active players for this weekend’s Western Athletic Conference series against Louisiana Tech starting on Thursday (6 p.m.), said Colton is still a long way from being able to contribute on a regular basis.

“He has to build up his endurance,” Powers said.

Colton isn’t afraid of having to earn his spot again. “You know, before today I didn’t really know if I was ready to come back,” Colton said. “You never really know until you get out there and the adrenaline starts to flow.

“But I felt good. When I got out there I was probably more excited than nervous. I was just happy to get the opportunity.”

 

College baseball: Success becomes routine for Oregon State’s Wallace

Monday, March 17th, 2008
JOE SANTORO
RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
Posted: 3/16/2008John Wallace knows a thing or two about winning.

“It’s been a dream come true,” said the Oregon State Beavers junior outfielder and 2005 Reno High graduate. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Wallace, whose Beavers beat the Wolf Pack 17-10 on Saturday at Peccole Park, collects sports trophies the way the rest of us collect baseball cards and stamps.

“Yeah, it has really been kind of surreal,” said Wallace, who was hitless in three at-bats in Nevada’s 10-1 victory on Friday and did not play on Saturday.
John Wallace

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Courtesy: Oregon State
Sports Information
Wallace’s amazing run of championships all started in the fall of 2003 when he was a junior quarterback for the Reno Huskies football team. He led the Huskies on an unbelievable seven-game winning streak to finish the season, winning the Class 4A state title at Mackay Stadium. Later that school year, in the spring of 2004, Wallace hit .445 with 63 runs scored as a first baseman to help power the Huskies to the Class 4A state championship at Carson High.Winning two state titles in two sports in the same school year would be enough for most athletes. Wallace, though, was only getting started.

After taking a year off from celebrating at the end of the season, Wallace went to Oregon State.

“Nevada recruited me, but Oregon State recruited me hard early on and it was always a dream of mine to play in the Pac-10,” said Wallace, whose father Mike Wallace led the Wolf Pack in hitting at .412 in 1980.

Wallace hit .326 in 132 at-bats as an Oregon State freshman in 2006, playing in 47 games. As a sophomore, the left-hander hit .282 in 110 at-bats and 51 games. Both years ended with the Beavers celebrating on the field at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium as College World Series champions.

“It’s been amazing,” Wallace said. “It kind of reminded me of when we won state (in baseball) down in Carson. I didn’t think anything could feel that good, but the last two years have been incredible.”

Wallace, who is hitting .343 in 12 games, has played a significant role in the Beavers’ two College World Series titles. In the two College World Series combined, he hit .310 (13-for-42) with two triples and five RBIs.

“In the first one, I played the first eight innings in left field and then got pulled from the (championship) game, so I got to run out of the dugout when we won,” Wallace said. “But last year I was in left field in the final game and got to sprint to the pile in the infield.”

Wallace says it is still difficult for him to believe that he has won back-to-back College World Series titles.

“It’s hard enough to explain what it feels like to win one,” Wallace said. “But when you win two. Like I said, it’s surreal. It’s only now starting to sink in more and more.”

The Beavers have struggled a bit this season, winning just seven of their first 13 games. The past three years, after all, have produced an overall record of 145-46 and three consecutive trips to Omaha.

“This year it’s a new team,” said Wallace, who is a cousin of Wolf Pack freshman Joe Wallace. “We have a lot of new players. We’re young but if we continue to work hard we can make it happen.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound Wallace is off to a solid start this year. His 0-for-3 game against the Pack on Friday ended his hitting streak at five games. Wallace, though, has already hit more home runs this season (two) than he hit over his first two seasons (one) in Corvallis. In consecutive games against Georgia on Feb. 29 and March 1, he was 5-for-7 with a home run and a double.

“I’m seeing the ball well,” Wallace said. “Hopefully I can keep it rolling.”

Wallace certainly isn’t willing to predict a three-peat at the College World Series this June. But, he did admit, he’s become accustomed to celebrating with his teammates at the end of a season.

“I can’t really imagine not being in Omaha at the end of the year,” he smiled.

 

Baseball: Reno looks to rebound from down 2007

Monday, March 17th, 2008

JUSTIN LAWSON
RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
Posted: 3/13/2008

The baseball legacy at Reno High School has been a long time building, all the way back to 1962 when the Huskies won their first state championship. The reminders of past teams are all around, on the backstop at Zunini Field, in the hallways at the school and, for some, at home.

That legacy hit a speed bump last season when the Huskies missed the playoffs for the first time since Pete Savage took over as coach in 1995.

“Last year it was definitely a disappointment, kind of a shock because we knew that the outcome, not making playoffs, that’s not something we strive for at the beginning of each year,” Reno infielder Thomas Wood said.

Reno strives to be among the best in Nevada high school baseball every year, and that has led the program to 11 regional championships and five state championships. The reminder of last season’s disappointment is serving as a motivation this year.

“That’s almost all the motivation,” Reno pitcher Glenn Wallace said. “You don’t want to lose, that’s not fun. So you’ve got to remember that every game and come out and get better.”

Reno is looking to improve on last season’s 14-7 league record (22-12 overall) and could be in a good place to do so with two Sierra League first-team selections returning for their senior seasons in pitcher Drew Simpson and Wood, and a slew of players with varsity experience.

“We’ve got a lot of good team chemistry going, a lot of leaders so I think everything is coming together,” Wallace said. “We all have the same goal, and we’re all working hard to get there.”

That goal is to go where teams of the past have gone: the state tournament. The Huskies have made the state tournament eight times since Savage became head coach, and some of the players who went to previous state tournaments are relatives of current players. Wallace and Simpson both have older brothers that played on Reno’s 2004 state championship.

“When you’re in middle school or even elementary school you know about the brothers, you know about Glenn’s brother winning state,” Wood said. “You just get here and it’s just a big expectation to win and it’s just a fun thing to do.”

Wallace’s brother, John, plays at Oregon State, where he won the National Championship in 2006 and 2007.

Expectations of this size can be too much for some, but Reno’s players seem to embrace that role and do the small things every day in practice to cement their legacy.

“There’s a lot of expectations in our program, but the expectations come from the excellence that we demand out of them on a daily basis,” Savage said. “So our kids are motivated every day.”

In a practice earlier this week, little things were the focus as Savage led the players through bunting drills, fielding drills and other fundamentals of the game.

“We teach the kids to go pitch by pitch and to go inning by inning and game by game, so whatever we’ve done in the past and whatever we’re going to do in the future is really not important,” Savage said. “It’s what we’re doing today.”

Today the Huskies are taking small steps toward tomorrow, working on cementing their place in the Reno baseball legacy.

 

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