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Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Playoffs 

Section Championship Series:
Jesuit Marauders v. St. Mary's Rams of Stockton

Marauders mascot photo.  



Wed June 08--Sacramento City College

St. Mary's claims Second Straight D-1 Section Crown With 6-1 Victory  

After Jesuit Mauled the Rams 10-0 In Game Two 

by Editor, Rick Cabral

St. Mary's claimed its second straight Sac-Joaquin D-1 Section Championship tonight by winning the nightcap game 6-1 over Jesuit. The Rams (24-10) were led by Oregon-bound
Mitch Walding and junior Geo Brusa, who were integral in the Rams' rallies in the first and fifth innings.  


The defeat was especially disappointing for the Marauders, since Jesuit had trounced the Rams in the afternoon opener 10-0, concluding on a game-ending triple play, and forcing a deciding Game Three. 


"The nice lesson here is that when you get down, it's not about getting down, it's about getting' up and proving that 'You know what? We're competitors!'" said Rams' head coach, Pete Pijl after the series had concluded. "Our pitcher, Chris Brink, is obviously a big-time competitor. He completely kept them (Jesuit) off balance all night." 


Brink held Jesuit to just one run on five hits, two by senior Cameron Iwasa. Junior Parker Abercrombie had a double and the lone RBI for the Marauders.


St. Mary's demonstrated its resolve when it tore into Jesuit's starting pitcher Gabe Araj right off the bat. With runners on first and second, Walding drove in the first Rams run with a single. Cleanup hitter Brusa generated the second run on an RBI sacrifice fly. Then first baseman C.J. Owens, who played outstanding defense all series, knocked in the third run with a single.  


St. Mary's had set the tone, and with Brink on the mound, Jesuit could not rekindle the first-game magic. 


Jesuit scored once in the bottom of the second, but left runners in scoring position over the next two innings. St. Mary's backed Brink with excellent defense in the nightcap, including a laid-out diving catch by center fielder Charlie Gaff, a diving stop and 360-degree spin-and-throw by shortstop Walding to nail a runner at first, and a pair of catches by Owens and second baseman Kyle Cortopassi at the fence near first base. 


Jesuit coach Joe Potulny had brought in Matt Rogers to pitch in the second inning, and he got 11 out of 12 outs. But in the fifth, with two outs, Walding continued his hot hitting by rapping a double over the shortstop's head and scampered into second. Brusa knocked him in, and he would later score on an error in right field. After that, Jesuit went down quietly. 


Brusa added a solo shot in the seventh inning for his fourth RBI of the game. Walding finished 2 for 4 with one RBI. 


After the game, Coach Joe Potulny had a long season-ending feel-good session with his team, which finished 25-9. "Early in the season if anyone had said 'Your guys are going to end up where they did, it was like "You're nuts." Even right to the end, our pitching's been thin. In a lot of ways, I'm prouder of this team than a lot of other (Jesuit) teams that have run the table. They've gotten more mileage out of what is there that some other teams that were more talented and had won. But this was really good." 


Jesuit had reason to be proud of its performance today.  


After losing Game One 6-2 on Tuesday night, they were the visitors in today's afternoon contest and came out of the chute like a band of renegade pirates. Senior captain Brian Celsi led off with a double, followed by a Louis Mejia single, and a Zach Green run-scoring single, and the Marauders were on the board. Walding, who fires fastballs in the low '90s, walked in a batter with the bases loaded and Jesuit led 2-0. The Fair Oaks boys never looked back. 


Green knocked in three runs in that game with a pair of singles and a double, and combined with his excellent defensive play at shortstop, looked like the 16U USA team player he was last year. Nick Viola, however, was the team's anchor, pitching six shutout innings and limiting a hard-hitting St. Mary's team to just three hits, two by Walding. Viola improved to 6-3, and gave Potulny what he wished for earlier in the day when he resurrected the old Ernie Banks motto, "It's a fine day for baseball--let's play two!"


Walding (6-1), by contrast gave up eight runs in Game Two, including six unearned in Jesuit's big fourth inning for his first loss of the season. Despite three errors by his defense, he remained a team player, saying "We win as a team—we lose as a team." On Tuesday, the senior was selected by the Phillies in the fifth round of the Major League First-Year Player Draft. He told he is pumped to be heading north to play for Coach George Horton's University of Oregon baseball program, but that may change depending on the Phillies' offer this summer.


Today's first game concluded on one of the most amazing plays anyone could remember.


It came in the bottom of the sixth. With Jesuit leading 10-0, Gaff and Walding opened the frame with singles to start a rally. The switch-hitting Brusa, batting left-handed against Viola, launched a ball that looked like it would sail over the right center field fence. Jesuit right fielder Abercrombie immediately turned and ran under the ball. With his back to the infield, he made a Willie Mays-style catch a la the 1954 World Series, turned and threw the ball back in.  


At first, Abercrombie thought the ball was going out, too. "I just turned my head and started running for it," he said. "I looked up and it stayed in the air because that wind was coming in (from right to left) and I thought 'I've got a chance to catch this ball. Might as well put my glove out.'" He did, and the ball landed there perfectly for one of the great defensive highlights of the 2011 high school season.  


At the crack of the bat, both Rams runners were so certain the ball would go for extra bases, if not a homer, they were running on the hit. When Abercrombie's throw was relayed into the infield, it was clear that both runners were dead ducks. Viola retrieved the ball, ran and touched second base for the second out, and then jogged another eighty feet, where he underhanded the ball to first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who stepped on bag for the game-ending (9-4-1-3) triple play.  


The Jesuit bench and fans in the stands erupted at the amazing end to the mercy-rule conclusion that propelled them into the final game of the best-of-three series.


After it was all over, Potulny was asked if he thought the Game Two momentum would help to crown his team champions? 


"No, because of who they (St. Mary's) are…I told our guys, 'They're not going to back off. They're a mirror image of you; just like you didn't get on your heels after game one, you battled back. They're going to do the same thing.' Even after the game-ending triple play."


Potulny, who is now 5-1 in Section Championship play, felt his club had gotten the most out of its talent in 2011. Then lavished praised on his friendly foes to the South, the Rams. "It's a credit to Pete and his guys. They've got a great program and great coaches." 


Potulny can be generous in defeat, as he is loaded with talent returning in 2012. Joining the fleet-footed Abercrombie from the starting lineup are juniors second baseman Mejia, outfielder Joe Williams, pitchers Logan James and Viola, shortstop Green, plus  sophomore catcher Jordan Hanlin, who does a great job behind the dish.

It's enough to make the head coach smile when he goes to sleep tonight.

Tue June 07--Sacramento City College

St. Mary's Takes Game One 6-2
Rams One Win From Second Straight D-1 Section Championship

By Mark McDermott, 06/07/11

Tuesday was a special day for Mitch Walding. 

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound St. Mary’s High School shortstop was taken by the 2009 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round of the Major League First-Year Player Draft earlier in the day, then the left-handed hitting shortstop went out later that  night and broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run single as the Rams beat the Jesuit Marauders 6-2 in the first game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship best-of-three series at Union Stadium on the Sacramento City College campus. 



Mitch Walding (#2) of St. Mary's attacks a pitch from Jesuit's Logan James.
in Game One of the Section D-1 Championship series.

“I got up at 9 a.m. and went over to my grandmother’s house because we had family in from Florida,” said Walding, describing the start of his day. “We all watched the draft on television. When I heard my name right after my friend J.D. Davis of Elk Grove, I couldn’t believe it. It was totally unexpected. It’s like when you’re a little kid and you dream about growing up and playing for a World Series champion.” 

An elated Walding, however, knew the tough part of his day was yet to come. 

St. Mary’s (23-9) struggled through the first four innings against Jesuit junior lefthander Logan James. James was sharp and nearly unhittable. The Rams managed one hit and a walk. However, in the fifth something seemed to be bothering James. 

Trailing 1-0, the Rams tied the game on a Ryan Soto RBI double. A walk to Eric Webber prompted Jesuit coach Joe Potunly to make a trip to the mound, the second of the inning. He removed James and fans wondered why. Then the roof caved in. Walding’s hit made the score 3-1 and Gio Brussa followed with a two-run double and Chris Brink closed out the six-run inning with a run-scoring single. 


Jesuit starting pitcher Logan James
was stretched out by the team trainer in-between innings due to stiffness in his back.

After the game it was learned that James was removed because of severe tightness in his back. 

“The second time I went out there I asked him how he felt and I needed to hear the truth,” Potulny said. “Our trainer had given me a heads up earlier in the game about his condition and we we’re monitoring him batter to batter. We had to get him out of there. He's young and has a lot of baseball to play for us next year.” 

James, who has been dominating in the playoffs, said he wasn’t at his best. 

“It’s a lingering injury that I’ve been dealing with all week,” James said. “I tweaked it really bad that one inning. It was much easier for me from the windup. But once I got into the stretch, there was too much twisting and it really hurt.” 

While James was impressive before he had to leave the game, St. Mary’s starter Michael Hager (8-5) was impressive throughout the game. 

Hager, an imposing sight at 6-foot-6, was masterful in throwing a complete game, allowing six hits and one earned run. He struck out the last four hitters he faced. He had an above-average fastball and threw his curve for strikes. 

In order for Jesuit to win its sixth section title, the Marauders must win twice on Wednesday. They beat Grace Davis in 1994, Beyer in 1996, Bear Creek in 2001, Buhach Colony in 2008 and St. Mary’s in 2009. Their five titles are fourth all-time behind Central Catholic (10), Vanden (9) and Elk Grove (6). Elk Grove’s six titles is a D-I record.   


Jesuit second baseman Louis Mejia tags St. Mary's Eric Webber out at second base.

St. Mary’s, on the other hand, is on a quest for back-to-back championships and third section championship overall. The Rams have played in the last three finals and four of the last five. The Rams beat Cordova in 1983 and Elk Grove in 2010. 

In best-of-three championship action, Jesuit is 10-3 and St. Mary’s 6-6. 

The Marauders will have to beat Walding in the 4 p.m. game. Walding has a 6-0 record and a 0.35 ERA. Another game will follow should the Marauders win.  

Walding has allowed only two earned runs in 40 and one-third innings this season, despite missing the last nine games after suffering a stress fracture of his right foot during 1-0 victory over national power Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. He’s also beaten Valley Christian-San Jose, Rocklin, St. Bonaventure-Ventura, Lincoln-Stockton and Merced. All six teams had winning records and combined for 114 victories. 

Walding, who has committed to the University of Oregon after de-committing from UC Davis, has agreed to play for the Cowlitz Black Bears in the nine-team summer collegiate wood-bat West Coast League. The Bears are based at David Story Field at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Wash. He will leave on Thursday. 


Sat May 28--American River College

Jesuit Claims D-1 North Title With 5-1 Win Over Oak Ridge

By Mark McDermott

Nick Viola doesn’t go about doing his business the easy way.

The Jesuit High School righthander pitched out of jams throughout the game as the Marauders beat the Oak Ridge Trojans 5-1 to claim the Sac-Joaquin Section North Division I Championship at American River College on Saturday evening.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder pitched six-and two-thirds innings, allowed six hits, walked one and struck out eight.


Jesuit's winning pitcher Nick Viola holds Oak Ridge runner Austin Ales
as he works from a muddy mound at American River Collge.

However, Viola (7-3) was in constant trouble throughout the early going. Oak Ridge had its leadoff hitter on in each of the first five innings and had a two runners on base in the first, second, third, fifth and seventh innings and managed only one run, and that run was unearned.

After retiring the first two batters in the seventh inning, Viola allowed a double to Zach Mahon and walk to Jake Wehr. Jesuit head coach Joe Potulny quickly headed to the mound. After a lengthy discussion, Potulny took the ball from Viola.

“He gave me the most convincing argument not to be taken out of the game,” Potulny said. “But, he had to come out. He’d reached 110 pitches and that was pushing it.”

Matt Rogers was summoned from the bullpen and the senior righthander quickly struck out Lance Berringer to earn his third save.

The outing was Viola’s second gutty and knee-knocking performance of the tournament. He threw a complete game seven days earlier in beating Pleasant Grove 5-4 in first-round action of double-elimination play despite allowing 11 hits and two walks. In that game, he had to pitch out of jams in the multiple innings, and Pleasant Grove had base runners on in every inning.

“That’s Nick Viola,” Marauder pitching coach Kelly McGhee said. “When he gets pissed, he gets focused and then he beats you.”

Potulny called Viola “very old-schooled” because of his family upbringing.

Viola, a junior who resides in the Bear River High School district, is the son of former Bear River coach Mike Viola, who piloted the Bruins from 2001-2008. In eight seasons, dad was 135-65 with four Pioneer Valley League titles.

The Marauders’ gave Viola a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a double by Louis Mejia, an error and sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins. They added another run in the fourth inning on an error, Mejia single and Cameron Iwasa fielders’ choice ground out.

After Oak Ridge cut the lead to 2-1 on Berringer’s RBI single in the fifth inning, Jesuit came back in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff home run by Zach Green, his seventh of the season, and a Parker Abercrombie RBI grounder to shortstop.  Mejia had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to round out the scoring.



Junior Zach Green launches a changeup from Austin Ales over the left field wall
to extend Jesuit's lead to 3-1 in fifth inning action against Oak Ridge.

Below, Jesuit teammates congratulate Green after hitting his seventh home run of the season.
"It felt good," Green said. "I haven't been swinging good, but I finally squared one up."

After the game, Potulny seemed stunned at his team’s success.

“At the midseason mark, I never would have thought for a moment we’d be where we are today,” he said. “We keep over-achieving and living on the edge.”

Potulny has only three senior starters and six seniors on the team, a middle infield of juniors in Green and Mejia, a sophomore catcher in Jordan Hanlin, junior corner outfielders in Abercrombie and Joe Williams and a pitching rotation dominated by underclassmen in Viola, and juniors Logan James and Gabe Araj.  


Jesuit head coach Joe Potulny exchanges a hug with senior centerfielder Brian Celsi
on "Senior Day" when the Marauders clinched their sixth D-1 Section North title.

“This team has totally exceeded my expectations,” Potulny said.

The Marauders (24-7) will play St. Mary’s (22-9), a 14-4 winner over Turlock in the South Division final at Klein Family Field in Stockton. The D-I title format is the best-of-three series beginning with Game 1 on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Sacramento City College. Game 2 is at noon on Saturday with another game to follow if necessary.

Jesuit and St. Mary’s squared off on March 28 with St. Mary’s winning 7-3 in 11 innings.

Thu May 26--American River College

Oak Ridge Defeats Pleasant Grove 7-2  

Trojans Advance to Championship Game Against Jesuit

by Editor, Rick Cabral

Pleasant Grove was dealt a double-blow of bad news today.

Before the elimination game against Oak Ridge, head coach Rob Rinaldi learned that two of his star players had violated CIF bylaws and were ineligible for the rest of the tournament. 

More on that later. 

The Eagles then took the field, sans their top two players, and were clobbered 7-2 by an Oak Ridge team hungry for a return match with Jesuit in the D-1 North championship game. 

The game featured two of the area's top southpaws: Zach Stilwell of Pleasant Grove and Chris Muse-Fisher of Oak Ridge, which was designated the home team by a better finish in the Delta Valley League. 

Last time Muse-Fisher faced Pleasant Grove, he tossed a no-hitter in a 3-0 win. Pleasant Grove's leadoff hitter Malik Hill promptly lined a single, ending any hope for a second no-no. But with the next batter, Muse-Fisher fielded a one-hopper that started a 1-6-3 double play to clear the basepaths.  

In the bottom of the first, Oak Ridge's first two batters ColeHansens  and Mason Watkinssingled. Jake Wehr was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Lance Berringer walked to bring in the first run. One batter later, Alex Fitchett smacked a run-scoring single giving Oak Ridge a 2-0 lead.

Pleasant Grove responded with two runs in the top of the second.  

Muse-Fisher, who admitted after the game to feeling nervous in the first two innings, gave up a leadoff double over third base to Ian Chandler. The pitcher then made two errors on consecutive plays, first when he mishandled a sacrifice bunt by Josh Adams. Then he tried to pick Adams off first and threw the ball down the foul line for an error. Chandler scored on the play, and Adams went to second. Designated hitter Mike Yanez sacrificed Adams to third. Adams feigned he was stealing home, and Muse-Fisher balked him in. That tied the score 2-2. 

Oak Ridge retook the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second on a walk, sacrifice bunt, hit- by-pitch and two infield errors for a 4-2 lead. 

Both pitchers settled down until Stillwell ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. He started the inning by hitting Wehr, but then got Berringer on a strike out. Next batter Austin Ales cracked a triple to deep center field, scoring Wehr. Coach Rinaldi brought in Jackson Gaskins in relief. Alex Fitchett and Drew Reischl then followed with a pair of run-scoring singles to give Oak Ridge a 7-2 lead. 

Fitchett went two for three with a pair of RBI in the contest, and Ales had the triple for the Trojans. Chandler had a double for Pleasant Grove. 

Though not as dominant as his last start against the Eagles, Muse-Fisher pitched a four-hitter, walking three and striking out four batters to earn the win and improve to 7-0. The two runs scored against him were unearned. His ERA will drop below the 2.01 where it stood before game time. 


Oak Ridge pitcher Chris Muse-Fisher holds J. Q Folena on first base in the game against
Pleasant Grove. The senior allowed two unearned runs in a well-pitched 7-2 victory.


The senior says he will enroll in Berkeley next year, and will get a walk-on tryout early in the year.  

For Rinaldi's crew it was a disappointing ending to a year that saw the Eagles (22-9) start the season 11-0 and ranked #1 in the Dandy Dozen for several weeks. Ironically, their first loss was to Oak Ridge. 

With the win tonight, Oak Ridge (21-10) advances to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I championship game against Jesuit. The game has been moved to Saturday at 5 p.m. to accommodate Oak Ridge's graduation ceremonies planned for tomorrow. Should the Trojans prevail, a second and final game between the two clubs will decide the North championship. 


Castro and Hastings Ruled Ineligible for Attending Pro Tryout

Rinaldi's team had to play without star players Kyle Castro and Mason Hastings when he learned this afternoon the pair had attended a pro tryout on Sunday, a violation of CIF rules.

Pleasant Grove's athletic director Jeff Caton called CIF Sac-Joaquin Commisioner Pete Saco this afternoon to report the action by the two senior ball players and confirmed it was a violation since high school players cannot participate in a major league workout before their season ends. Before the game at American River, both players were informed they were ineligible and could not suit up for the remainder of the playoffs.

The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson alertly noticed Castro was missing from the lineup card, which set off a sleuthing expedition in the press box. Even more confusing, Davidson earlier had seen Hastings in uniform before the game. Yet, during the national anthem both Castro and Hastings were standing on the sideline beside their teammates out of uniform.

After the game, Castro handed in his uniform, and gave man-hugs to each member of the coaching staff, obviously downhearted. Castro explained that he had received an invitation by mail along with approximately 25 other players who attended the private tryout held by the Toronto Blue Jays in Los Angeles.

The Eagles star pitcher/infielder explained he didn't realize his action was a violation. But he took responsibility for his mistake, saying "Obviously, it was my fault. It's on me. But I didn't understand the rules on that."

Castro said it never occurred to him to check first with Coach Rinaldi before attending the tryout.

"Gotta move on now," he said, before heading off the diamond for the final time with his Pleasant Grove teammates.

For more on this situation, see Joe Davidson's article at the Bee.

Elk Grove Citizen posted a more recent and fulsome story this afternoon. You'll find it here.

updated 05/27/11
3:05 p.m.

Tue May 24--American River College 

Undefeated Jesuit in D-1 Driver's Seat with 8-0 Win Over Oak Ridge

James Dominant Through Six Innings

by Editor, Rick Cabral

Jesuit pitcher Logan James tonight pitched six sterling shutout innings, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out 10 Oak Ridge Trojans.

The 5'10" southpaw also proved he's all the way back from a left elbow injury that delayed his spring start and projected ascent into the area's pitching elite. Tonight, James showed he's one of the best.

In the first inning he quickly established his fastball and struck out the side. Through three innings he'd fanned seven and allowed one hit that was erased with a smooth pick-off move to first base.

On the Trojans side, though not as dominating as James, juniorAlex Fitchett was equally effective. Through four shutout innings, the southpaw allowed just one hit and two walks. Then Jesuit broke open a scoreless game in the fifth.

Fitchett issued a walk toParker Abercrombie and then traded places with left-fielderLance Berringer, who came in to pitch. He immediately walkedJoe Williams, and both runners advanced one base on a wild pitch. One batter later,Brian Celsi opened the scoring with a single to center field, scoring both runners, and Celsi wentto second on a fielding error. One out later,Rhys Hoskins drove in Celsi with a double to right field, putting Jesuit ahead 3-0.

But the Marauders weren't done.

After clean-up hitterZach Green was hit by a pitch, Trojans head coachTodd Melton summoned junior right-handerJared McLean, who poured fuel on the fire by walkingCameron Iwasa to load the bases, and then walkedNick Viola, which brought in the fourth run of the inning. Abercrombie  singled up the middle to drive in two runs,increasing Jesuit'slead to 6-0.

Meanwhile, James was sitting on the bench getting cold and wishing he could go back out on defense, where they played error-free ball tonight. The Marauders scored once more and James went out for the sixth inning with a 7-0 cushion. After fanning the first batter,Cole Hansen produced a hit and stole second. But James retired the last two hitters in dominant fashion.

Jesuit added one more tally in their half of the sixth and CoachJoe Potulny sent seniorMatt Rogers in for James to close the game on three flyouts.

In addition to Celsi and Abercrombie's production, Hoskins had a double and an RBI and Iwasa went two for three at the plate.

After the game James admitted this was his most dominant performance of 2011 and later Potulny concurred. The portsider fired 14 first-pitch strikes while challenging the 21 Oak Ridge hitters with a fastball in the high-80s, a wicked curveball and an occasional slider.

James looked like a star-in-the-making last year as a sophomore in the D-1 playoffs. And over the summer he grew stronger and gained five to six miles on his fastball. But while pitching in the fall, he developed soreness and eventually learned he had strained his ACL due to a compression fracture in the back of his left elbow.

Consequently, Potulny had to shelve his star pitcher at the start of the season. James didn't make his first appearance on the mound until March 31 when he threw one inning against Folsom. He made his first start against these same Trojans on April 7, pitching four innings and allowing no runs and one hit.

James finished the regular season with a 4-0 mark on 28.2 innings pitched, with 50 strike outs and 21 walks. But the left-hander has heated up at the right time in the playoffs, sending his team to the championship game on Friday evening against the winner of the Pleasant Grove(22-8)-Oak Ridge (20-10) elimination game on Thursday. The winner of that contest earns the right to play an undefeated, rested and confident Jesuit club the following night.

The Marauders (23-7) were in the same position last year, and lost two straight to Elk Grove, which advanced to the D-1 Section Championship, losing in two games to St. Mary's of Stockton. Coach Potulny has stressed to his players since the first day of weight training that the 2010 team "didn't finish." He's been pushing his players all season to grab the brass ring this time.

And they're set to do just that.

Mon May 23-- American River College

"Battle of the Groves" Goes to the Eagles, 3-1

Elk Grove Thundering Herd March Home

By Mark McDermott 


Kyle Castro pitched a gem and J.Q. Folena smacked a two-run homer to lead the Pleasant Grove Eagles to a 3-1 victory over the Elk Grove Thundering Herd in the "Battle of the Groves" at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North Playoffs at American River College on Monday night.


Pleasant Grove (22-8) will play the loser of Tuesday night's winners' bracket game between the Jesuit Marauders (22-7) and the Oak Ridge Trojans (20-9) at 7 p.m. Zack Stilwell (5-4), who pitched the seventh inning for the save, will pitch for the Eagles. Elk Grove finished the season 23-7.


Castro (5-4) finally lived up to all his preseason hype when he was called by Jesuit coach Joe Potulny "the best pitcher in our league." He limited the Herd to five hits, struck out seven and pitched out of one big jam.


With the Eagles leading 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Elk Grove's Dom Nunez worked a walk off Castro and was sacrificed to second base by Jorge Vina. With the Herd's next two hitters combining for 18 home runs and 95 runs batted in this year, Pleasant Grove coach Ron Rinaldi had two huge decisions to make.


He chose to pitch to J.D. Davis, who entered the tournament hitting .506. Castro responded big time, striking out the CSU Fullerton-committed Davis.


Now with two outs, Rinaldi wasn't about to test the Eagles' luck a second time. He chose to intentionally walk super sophomore Ryan Tellez, who led the section in runs batted in during the regular season with 48 and has been the most dangerous hitter in the tournament.


The situation got dicey, however, when Castro walked Matt Aday to load the bases. The senior righthander then ran the count full on Andrew Horne before getting the junior to strike out swinging.


Pleasant Grove took a 1-0 lead in the third inning off Elk Grove starter Ryan King (6-2) on a couple of fielding blunders on consecutive bunts that put a runner at third base. Garrett Heisinger, the Eagles' most consistent hitter all season with a .383, then drove home Josh Adams from third base on a ground out. Heisinger had four hits and a walk in his first five trips to the plate in the tournament.


Eagles' junior shortstop Folena upped the lead to 3-0 on a two-run homer to deep left field in the fifth inning.


Folena came up big again in the sixth inning. Davis was on first base via a single with one out when Herd skipper Jeff Carlson sent in Lorenzo Wood to pinch run for him. On Aday's drive to center field, Wood raced around third base and headed for home. However, center-fielder Malik Hill fired the ball to Folena whose relay throw was perfect to catcher Mason Hastings who applied the tag on a close play for the second out. Then Horne struck out to end the inning.


Elk Grove scored its lone run in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Nunez after a single by Trever Hicks, the first hit off Castro

Sat May 21-- American River College


Jesuit—"Outplayed" by Pleasant Grove—Wins 5-4

By Mark McDermott


Ask Jesuit High School baseball coach Joe Potulny a question and the veteran skipper will not be wishy-washy and give you an honest answer.


So, after his Marauders survived their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North Playoff double-elimination opener over the Pleasant Grove Eagles 5-4 at American River College, on Saturday afternoon he was asked to evaluate his team's performance.


"We didn't deserve to win." said Potulny, whose team was out-hit 11-4. "They out-played us."


Jesuit scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Rhys Hoskins' sharply hit ball up the middle created all kinds of excitement.


With the score tied 4-4, Pleasant Grove reliever Kyle Castro allowed a single to Joe Williams, hit Jordan Hanlin with a pitch and walked Brian Celsi to load the bases. Louis Mejia followed with a grounder to second baseman Spencer Jeems who threw home for the force out.


That brought Hoskins to the plate. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder smashed a shot up the center of the diamond headed for center field. However, Eagles shortstop J.Q. Folena dove for the ball, fielded it and from his belly flipped a backhand toss to Jeems who hesitated momentarily before throwing to first base.


Hoskins, who could have stood in the batters' box and admired what seemed like the game-winning hit, ran hard to first base from the start and, although not blessed with much speed, out-ran the ball to the base and Hanlin scooted home with the winning run.


"Rhys did exactly what I expected him to do, drive in that run," Potulny said. "And, he did exactly what he's supposed to do, run hard to first base. If he doesn't run hard, we're tied still and playing another inning."


The Marauders jumped to an early 4-0 lead after one inning on an error, two-run triple by Cameron Iwasa and run-scoring ground out by Logan James.


The Eagles chipped away at the lead on a RBI single by Mason Hastings in the second inning and RBI hits by Ian Chandler and Michael Yantz in the fourth inning. They tied the game in the sixth inning on a two-out RBI single by Josh Adams.


Jesuit starter Nick Viola (6-3) pitched a complete game despite allowing 11 hits and two walks. The junior righthander pitched out of jams in the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. The Eagles had base runners on in every inning.


"Nick wasn't sharp, but he battled and gave us a gutsy performance," said Potulny, whose team is seeking its sixth section title. "Having Nick pitch a complete game and not having to go to the pen saved our staff for next week."


Jesuit (22-7), the Delta River League champions, advances to Tuesday's winners' bracket game against the DRL No. 2-seed Oak Ridge (20-9) at 7 p.m. Pleasant Grove (21-8), the DRL No. 3 seed, will play Delta Valley Conference champion Elk Grove (23-6) in Monday's losers' bracket at 7 p.m.


Oak Ridge 8, Elk Grove 1

By Mark McDermott


Oak Ridge righthander Austin Ales (5-2) pitched a five-hitter and struck out six to lead the Trojans past the tournament favorite Thundering Herd.


Ales may have exposed an Elk Grove weakness, as the senior hurler limited the Herd's fifth through ninth hitters to a combined 1-for-15.


"Austin located his pitches very well," coach Todd Melton said. "This isn't the first time he's done that to a very good team."


The Trojans jumped all over Herd starter Ryan Tellez, scoring four times in the first inning on a RBI ground out by Lance Berringer, a wild pitch and RBI singles by Ales and Alex Fitchett. Mason Watkins, Zach Mahon and Jake Wehr all had singles in the inning.


Elk Grove scored its only run in the first inning on a steal of home by J.D. Davis. With Davis at third base and Tellez at first base, Tellez broke for second base and on the throw to second base by Trojans' catcher Drew Reischel, Tellez got back to first and Davis scored.


Oak Ridge scored a single run in the sixth inning on a RBI triple by Watkins and blew the game wide open in the seventh inning off Herd reliever Jesse Anguiano on a bases loaded walk to Fitchett and two-run single by Cole Hansen.


"We started slow out of the gate," said Melton, whose team was 3-4 after seven games. "But hey, it's not how you start. This was a game we really wanted. It's the first time we've ever beaten Elk Grove."


The Trojans were aided by two fine plays in right field by Luke Eicher. The senior made a diving catch with runners on first and second base and one out in the fifth inning and robbed Tellez of a possible homer when he tracked down his blast and reached above the fence to catch it.


Tellez, the super sophomore, was impressive at the plate once again, He had two singles and that bomb to right field that was caught. He had three hits, including a double and homer in the Herd's 8-3 win over Vacaville on Friday night.


Watkins, Mahon, Ales and Hansen each had two hits for the Trojans.

Fri May 20 -- American River College 

Elk Grove 8, Vacaville 3

by Mark McDermott


The marquee matchup Friday at the Sac-Joaquin Section North Division I Playoffs at American River College featured the big boppers of the Elk Grove Thundering Herd against the heavy hitters of the Vacaville Bulldogs.


Vacaville's dynamic duo ofBrenden Farney (.487) andC.J. Jacobe (.436) entered the game with an impressive total of 32 extra-base hits, 10 home runs and 50 runs batted in.


Elk Grove's wrecking crew ofJ.D. Davis (.506) andRyan Tellez (.494) had amassed an amazing 40 extra-base hits, 16 home runs and 91 runs batted in between them.


In the end, the bats of the big boppers of Elk Grove bopped loudest as the Herd defeated the Bulldogs 8-3 in an elimination game.


The Delta Valley Conference champion Herd (23-5) advances to tomorrow's double-elimination phase of the tournament against Delta River League runner-up Oak Ridge, a 6-3 winner over Davis. Game time is 3 p.m. DRL champ Jesuit (21-7) will play DRL third seed Pleasant Grove (21-7) at noon.


The Farney-Jacobe against Davis-Tellez power show turned out to be a one-sided affair.


Farney (0-for-4) and Jacobe (1-for-4) combined for one hit and two strikeouts while Davis (1-for-3) and Tellez (3-for-4) combined for four hits, four runs scored, a double, two home runs, four runs batted in, a walk and a strikeout.


Davis gave the Herd a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a towering home run to left-center fence just right of the 370-foot sign. The senior slugger also walked in the third inning, struck out in the fourth inning and popped to left field in the sixth inning.


In the third inning, Tellez one-upped Davis, launching a booming drive to dead center field that cleared the 390-foot sign with ease. Known to his teammates as "Rowdy," he nearly undressed Jacobe on the mound with a laser to center field in the first inning, flew out to the base of the right-field fence in the fourth inning and roped a double to left-center field in the sixth inning.


Davis (6-2) also pitched the first six innings and scattered six hits, allowed one earned run, walked one, bruised three and struck out 10.


Oak Ridge 6, Davis 3


by Mark McDermott

The Davis Blue Devils left their leather at home.


The DVL runner-up committed five errors leading to two unearned runs in the first inning and four more unearned runs in the fourth inning as the Oak Ridge Trojans prevailed 6-3 in the early elimination game.


The Blue Devils’ sloppy play over-shadowed the 12-strikeout pitching performance of Ben Eckels, who was coming off a 17-strikeout outing against Franklin in his last start.


Trojans' starter Chris Muse-Fisher (6-0), who pitched a no-hitter in his last start against Pleasant Grove, was equally impressive, retiring nine batters in a row to begin the game and 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. Through six innings, the lefthander allowed one hit and three walks and struck out seven. He was removed after yielding a walk and hit to start the seventh inning in favor of Cole Hansen.


Oak Ridge (19-9), the DRL runner-up, led 6-0 after six innings before Davis (21-5-1) scored three times in the seventh inning. Lance Berringer and Zach Mahon had two hits each for the Trojans.


OR Runner

Lance Berringer of Oak Ridge attempts to steal second base ...


... but the Davis second baseman applies the tag for an out.
Photos courtesy of Tom Paniagua, Lone Forest Wolf Photography


Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Playoffs 

Thu May 19 -- American River College 

Jesuit Tops Napa 6-3

by Mark McDermott


Jesuit High School baseball coach Joe Potulny will be the first to say his Marauders didn't bring their "A Game" to Thursday night's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North Playoff elimination game against the Napa Indians.


However, more times than not, the Marauders' "B Game" is good enough.


Brian Celsi and Cameron Iwasa each drove in two runs and ninth batter Jordan Hanlin had three hits as the Delta River League champions downed the Monticello Empire League third seed 6-3.


Jesuit (21-7) advances to Saturday's double-elimination phase of the playoffs for a noon showdown with DRL third-seed Pleasant Grove (21-6), a 12-2 winner over MEL champ Armijo (18-7) in the nightcap. The Jesuit-Pleasant Grove matchup will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The Marauders won two of three games in league play.


Though, Marauders' lefthander Logan James pitched well enough to earn his fifth win of the season against no defeats, he struggled with his control, walking four, hitting a batter and throwing 90-plus pitches.


Potulny said it took his team some time to adjust to the umpire's strike zone, one that seemed to vary from pitch to pitch.


"Once we determined the umpire's strike zone was tight and hitter friendly, our pitchers needed to understand strikes were at premium in this game and that they were going to have to throw an occasional batting practice strike," Potulny said about as diplomatically as he could about the calling of balls and strikes.


"On the other hand, offensively our hitters should have been more selective and aggressive on counts in our favor. As a result, we should have had more quality at-bats and hit the ball harder.


"We didn't do either one as well as we are capable of doing. We'll have to improve on that on Saturday."


The Marauders trailed 1-0 before they stepped into the batters' box on a run-scoring single by Adam Lustig. But, they scored twice in their half of the inning on a run-scoring double by Rhys Hoskins and a RBI-single by Iwasa.


Napa (15-13) tied the game 2-2 in the third inning when James walked four consecutive batters with two out.


Jesuit went ahead 3-2 in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk to Celsi and then broke the game open in a three-run sixth inning on two Napa errors, a sacrifice fly by Celsi and bases-loaded walk to Iwasa.


Pleasant Grove 12, Armijo 2

by Mark McDermott

Zack Stilwell
 tossed six strong innings, collected two hits and drove in two runs for the Eagles in the nightcap.


Teammates JQ Folena and Garret Heisinger each added three hits. Folena had two doubles and four runs batted in.

Out-Bracket Playoff Games
Division I

Napa 5, Franklin 4
by Mark McDermott, 05/16/11

Adam Lustig singled home the go-ahead run with two out in the top of the seventh inning to lead the visiting Napa Indians past the Franklin Wildcats 5-4 in an out-bracket baseball game of the Sac-Joaquin Section North Division I Playoffs on Monday.

Napa (15-12), the Monticello Empire third seed, advances to play the Delta River League top-seed Jesuit Marauders (20-7) in an elimination game on Thursday at American River College. Franklin finished the season (19-9-1).

With the game tied, Franklin coach Mike Cody turned to his third pitcher of the game—ace Jordan Johnson—to start the seventh inning. But the righthander wasn't sharp, walking leadoff hitter Alex Fernandez. Then, with one out, Fernandez stole second. One out later, he came home on Lustig's base hit up the middle of the diamond.

Franklin got runners on first and second base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, Josh Pigg hit into a double play to end the game and make a winner out of Napa pitcher Bryce Lombardi (1-0).

The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring single by Pigg. However, the Indians scored twice off Wildcats' starter Tyler Blake in the second inning on runs batted in by Randy Keen and Fernandez.

The Wildcats took back the lead scoring three times in the third inning on a two-run triple by Johnson and RBI groundout by Pigg.

With a steady rain coming down for the rest of the game, the Indians tied the game 4-4 with two outs in the fourth inning on a dropped fly ball in right field.


 2011 Easter Tournaments

2010 Playoff Reports

 Updated 06/08/11

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