Yankees getting ready for summer season
Some of these players have major league aspirations. Most want to prepare themselves for their next season of college ball. Others just want to have a place to play ball for the summer.
All have a passion for baseball.
They’re the Gardnerville-based Nevada Yankees amateur team which is gearing up for its fourth summer season with a roster consisting of players, including some local products, who will be playing college ball around the country next year.
The Yankees will play a 38-game schedule plus two tournaments, with most of the action taking place on their home field at Lampe Park under the direction of manager Hal Wheeler and general manager Mark Smith.
Several special promotions will be held, including autograph signing sessions and prize giveaways, throughout the season, according to Smith. The team is being jointly sponsored this summer by Les Schwab Tires, Central Sierra Construction, TCI Cablevision and The Record-Courier.
“This has been a good stepping stone for a lot of kids to make the step up from junior college to Division I, and of course, we’ve had some guys go on to the pros,” said Wheeler, whose club opened with a 26-6 win over the Sierra Tribe Monday in Sparks.
The Yankees resume play next weekend, June 12-13, when they visit the Sacramento Smokeys for a four-game series. They open at home June 17 against the Tahoe Emeralds at Lampe Park.
“We’re looking forward to another fun, competitive season,” said Wheeler, whose club compiled a 46-16 record last summer, capped by a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open amateur tournament in Gardnerville. “We’re playing a tougher schedule than we have in the past, but this is the best team we’ve had.
“We’ve got a little speed, we’ve got a little power and I’m real excited about our pitching staff.”
Several familiar faces will be on the field, including such Douglas High products as Fresno State University-bound shortstop Jon Storke (see related story on page 16), first baseman Jared Walker (now at Merced College), outfielder David Paganini (Taft), outfielder Nick Soto (Cerro Coso), pitcher Scott Henricksen (Feather River) and Scott Ovard (football at Nevada).
There are other familiar faces, including speedy second baseman/outfielder Justin Martin, back for his third season, and Gabe Zappin, a Carson High graduate who pitched for Nevada in 1997.
“Zappin probably has as good a stuff as any amateur pitcher I’ve been around, except for maybe Estes,” said Wheeler, who coached the San Francisco Giants’ Shawn Estes in the early 1990s.
The Yankees will have two other pitchers to keep an eye on: Jeff Kaita from Fresno State and Brian Schultz from Lassen College and headed for Nevada.
“Both those guys throw 90 mph and are guys who have a clue about pitching,” Wheeler said.
Two other pitchers to keep an eye on are Gavin Garrick from Carson City, who just completed his freshman year at the University of Hawaii, and Lou Lockwood from Hawthorne, who has finished up at Lassen College and now is now headed to Nevada.
One of the pitchers from the 1997 Yankees pitching staff, University of Nevada ace Jim Brink, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics earlier this week.
On the offensive side, the Yankees have some formidable speed on the bases, including Martin, the University of Nevada’s leadoff hitter this past spring, and outfielder Darin Baker, who has signed with the University of Hawaii.
The power will be supplied by two returning players: Cameron White, a catcher from Hug High and Dallas Baptist College (where he hit 20 home runs this season), and Dan Bir, Pepperdine’s designated hitter this season.
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