On Sunday Night
Baseball on ESPN this evening analyst Orel Hershiser was talking about how former Major Leaguers
Greg Vaughn (Kennedy High) was instrumental in the success of tonight's
starter, Chicago White Sox lefthander Chris Sale.
Turns out Sale, a player at Florida
Gulf Coast University, was playing in the summer woodbat Northwoods League for
the LaCrosse Loggers in 2008, but not doing very well. His coach Vaughn
suggested he alter his delivery.
He altered the delivery, posted an amazing
season in 2010: 11–0 win-loss record, a 2.01 ERA over 17 games and 103 innings, 146
strikeouts while walking just 14. He led the NCAA in strikeouts at the end of the regular
season and was awarded the National NCAA Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
In 2010, the White Sox selected the 6’5’’ 170-pound lefty with the 13th overall pick and
signed Sale to a $1.6 million signing bonus. After facing fewer 43 minor league batters,
the White Sox brought him up to the parent club, becoming the first member of the 2010 draft
class to reach the majors.
"And that led him to a big league career,"
Hershiser said concluding the anecdote. And Sale was selected to the American League All-Star
team last year.
On this night, Sale nearly threw a perfect game, which was ruined by All-Star
Mike Trout in the 7th inning. Sale ended up pitching a one-hit shutout. Not bad for a guy who
took pitching advice from a home run slugger.
Community College – Super Regionals at Sierra
Feather River 7, Sierra
Feather River (29-12),
champions of the Golden Valley League, and unbeaten in the Super Regionals, won its third
consecutive game this morning 7-1 over Sierra to earn a trip to the State Finals.
Sierra’s dreams of winning
its second state championship (they won in 2008) were quashed by Golden Eagels pitcher Matt
Thomas, who threw a complete game, stingily parceling out five hits and one earned run to a club
that hit for a combined .300 average this year.
Losing its first game on
Friday meant Sierra would have to come through the loser’s bracket to win four straight games in
two days, a tall order. The last team to do it was Santa Rosa in 2005. Sierra got the two needed
wins yesterday, but it was clear this morning they were outmatched by a rested, better team in
ABOVE: Feather River Golden Eagles enjoy the traditional dogpile
after they swept the Super Regionals by beating host Sierra 7-1 today.
~ ~ ~
BELOW: Sierra starter Andrew Cooper--the state's wins leader with 13--cannot escape
the story on the scoreboard, as his team trailed 5-0 in his two innings of work on
Evangelho sent ace Andrew Cooper (13-3) to the mound after throwing
only four innings on Friday in the 8-4 loss to Cabrillo. But the state's
winningiest pitcher wasn’t on his game today, either.
In the bottom of the first,
with two runners on, Eagles catcher Chadwick
Kaalekahi ripped a double to plate two runs. Next
Asher laced a double, scoring Kaalekahi, and very quickly Feather
River led 3-0.
In the second inning, the
Eagles replicated the pattern, putting two runners on and third baseman Jake Bray, the team’s
leading hitter, doubled to score two runs and make it 5-0.
Bray had an ever better day
on defense. He made three scintillating plays around the third base bag, including the dagger to
the Wolverines heart in the 5th inning.
First baseman Trevor McVey (Rocklin High) singled and Nick Blaser (Roseville High) followed with a double to right
field, placing runners at 3rd and 2nd with no outs. Catcher Mikey Nantze laced a bullet down the third base line, but it
was caught by Bray who alertly stepped on the bag before McVey retreated in time for the
force-out double play. The next hitter Jared Snow
hit a hot smash to first base, but he too was retired. Two minutes after Blaser’s double, the
Wolverines were trotting back for their gloves, realizing this was not their day.
Clearly it wasn’t on
defense, as they made three infield errors today.
Meantime, Eagles pitcher
Thomas rolled along, demonstrating good control and location despite lacking a “plus pitch” in
his arsenal. He improved to 8-1 for the season.
Devon Golden looked solid in relief of Cooper. In five plus innings, he allowed
just three hits and two earned runs while striking out five.
“We lined out with runners
in scoring position,” Evangelho said after the game. “That was the story today. To get to that
point in the Final Four (State Finals) it takes some luck,” he rationalized. “They (Feather
River) played well. Give them credit.”
After the disappointment
ebbs, Sierra’s interim coach will be proud of a job well done in taking Sierra to the Super
Regionals, finishing 33-9. Rob Willson, on sabattical this spring, will resume his post
as head coach next season.
Last year at the Feather River Super Regional, Sierra opened by knocking off
#1 seed Feather River, and eventually the Golden Eagles lost on their home turf. So Feather
River returned the favor this spring, and it now advances to
the state finals in Fresno next weekend. The Golden Eagles have never won a community college
state championship in baseball. They last won a Super Regional tournament 10 years
There's still a chance a Big-8 Conference team could win the state
championship. Santa Rosa, which tied Sierra for the league title, ran through its Super
Regional with three quick victories, earning a trip to Fresno next
The Big-8 has won the state title the past two years. Cosumnes River did it
last year and San Joaquin Delta acommplished the feat in 2011.