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Sutter baseball in top form
Huskies sweep Winters in doubleheader
When watching Nathan Ahlers swing a baseball bat, it's hard to believe that surgery is in his near future.
Ahlers hasn't been 100 percent healthy for two seasons now. He fractured and tore two ligaments in his left wrist during football camp before his junior year.
However, that hasn't stopped Sutter High's clean-up hitter from putting up solid numbers.
While playing with the injury last year as a junior, the Huskies' first baseman still managed to bat .493 and led the Huskies with four home runs, 12 doubles and 31 RBIs while leading Sutter to the Northern Section Division II title.
On Tuesday, he was up to his old tricks again by finishing his day 4 for 7 with two home runs, a double and eight RBIs to lead the Huskies to a doubleheader sweep of Winters to open Butte View League play at Arata Field.
Ahlers started his day by belting a two-run home run in the first inning and added a two-run single on a line drive in the third to propel the Huskies to a 10-7 victory in game one.
It was more of the same in game two when Ahlers blasted another long home run and doubled as part of another four-RBI game. Sutter won 10-3 to complete the sweep.
"Nathan strikes the ball with brute force. It seems like he hits the ball hard every time, and he gets on a lot on errors because he hits it so hard," said Sutter coach Mark Renfree. "He's a real force when we get people on in front of him."
Ahlers said surgery will be required in the offseason to repair his injured wrist, but added that there was no way he was going to miss out on his senior year.
"I went straight to the doctor after football season ended, and he said it would take at least six months to heal," said Ahlers, who entered the day batting a robust .625. "I can't move it as much as I used to, so I'll probably get surgery during the summer."
Hayden Heilman went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, sophomore Randy Post was 2 for 3 with an RBI, and lead-off hitter Jason Suleski finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and scored twice in the opening game.
Lucas Cryer also went 2 for 3 and earned the win from the mound by allowing eight hits and striking out eight over 52⁄3 innings of work. Heilman allowed two unearned runs over the final 11⁄3 innings to finish things out and record the save.
Junior Brad Bonnenfant overcame seven walks and allowed three runs on two hits over four-plus innings to record the win in game two. Trenton McDaniel came on in relief and was perfect over the final three frames to close the door.
Colton Minton went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, Suleski was 2 for 4 with a double, and Post and Heilman also doubled in the win for Sutter, which improved to 9-1 on the year with the pair of victories.
With six regulars back from last year's championship squad, the Huskies are set up to return to the section title game for the third consecutive year, and for Renfree, it all starts with depth and pitching.
"We can interchange players and move kids around more. We have kids that can play multiple positions and that flexibility is huge," Renfree said. "We also have the experience in our pitching staff and that's a big thing for us. They're all very competitive, and that's what I like."
Add in a tight-knit group that's played together since its Little League days, and the Huskies look to have all of the pieces for a championship run.
"We had three seniors leave, so we're pretty much the same team," Ahlers said. "We do everything together and play all the sports. We just want to get back to the section title game and win it again."