Friday, May 31, 2013

EG Takes Game One, 9-1

Elk Grove took advantage of four St. Mary's errors and starting pitcher Dave Smith threw a complete game four-hitter as the Herd took game one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I championship series, 9-1, at Sacramento City College Friday night.

The Rams' top pitcher, Joey Caffese, walked five and hit three Herd batters in four innings in taking the loss.

Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson knows in a best two-out-of-three series, it's very important to win game one and win it convincingly, like the Herd did Friday.
Rowdy Tellez, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI's, led
Elk Grove to a 9-1 win over St. Mary's Friday

"The first game is huge," Carlson said. "I remember the first Section title as a head coach we gave up game one after having a lead and it made it tough on us to come back. Winning game one takes a little bit of the pressure off. We need to come out and compete tomorrow. They will be ready to go."

After giving up an unearned run in the top of the first inning, Smith settled down to retire the next eight batters before giving up a hit to open the fourth inning. He was helped with a pair of double plays turned by shortstop Nick Madrigal and second baseman Carlos Moseley.

Rowdy Tellez had three singles and a pair of RBI's to lead the Herd attack. He also scored from first base in the third inning on a bit of a fluke play. He stole second base and when the throw to the bag sailed into centerfield, Tellez took off for third. The throw to third was also airmailed and went into the St. Mary's dugout, allowing Tellez to score on the over throw.

Dom Nunez drilled an RBI triple in the third inning.

Smith (9-2) struck out the side in the seventh inning to finish with eight K's and walked two.

Mikey Wright (5-0, 1.58 ERA) will start on the mound for Elk Grove in game two Saturday. First pitch is scheduled at noon.

Game Notes:

Elk Grove (28-5) has now won seven games in a row, six of them in the post-season.

St. Mary's must win both games Saturday in order to keep their Section championship string alive. They've won the past three Section D-I banners.

Four members of Elk Grove's last championship team, in 2007, were in attendance at Friday's game: Justin Charles, who has another year remaining at Cal State - Stanislaus, Zach Miller, who has one more year left at Long Beach State, Joel Hull, who graduated from Menlo College in 2011 where he played four years in centerfield for the Oaks, and Brian Oien.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

St. Mary's vs. EG For SJS D-1 Title

Elk Grove will be trying for its fifth Sac-Joaquin Section Division I baseball championship under head coach Jeff Carlson this Friday and Saturday at Sacramento City College. Friday's game will begin at 7 p.m. at Union Stadium. Saturday's game starts at noon. If a third game is necessary, it will follow at about 3 p.m.

The last two times the Herd made it to the best-two-out-of three championship series the opponent was St. Mary’s of Stockton. The Rams will once again be the team standing between them and a Section championship this weekend.

In 2007, the Rams won the South Division I tournament for the first time in 24 years. They’ve owned the South Section in baseball since then.

St. Mary’s has won six of the last seven South titles, including the last five in a row. 
Coach Jeff Carlson, hoping to see his
Herd team win its 5th SJS title during
his tenure at EGHS

The Rams are looking for its fourth Section Division I championship in a row this weekend, a string that began the year Elk Grove was last in the title series, 2010.

It is a bit of a surprise that St. Mary’s won the South Division this year. It looked like Turlock would be the team to beat. In fact, after losing its season-opener to Lincoln of Stockton, Turlock won 26 consecutive games. Then the Rams defeated them, 6-4 in the playoffs.

To close out the South championship, the Rams had to defeat Turlock a second time and they did, 5-1, last Wednesday, as St. Mary’s ace pitcher Joey Caffese tossed a two-hitter.

The Rams are on quite a roll right now. They’ve won nine games in a row. At one time this season, St. Mary’s record was 5-11. One of those losses was a 10-1 setback at the hands of Elk Grove.

Since that time, the Rams have won 15 of their final 16 games.

Carlson isn’t surprised that the Rams will be their opponent in the championship series.

“I’m not surprised,” Carlson said after winning the North championship last Friday. “St. Mary’s is a good club. They won (their division), too. We’re going to have to play great baseball. We’re going to have to hit and to pitch.”

Elk Grove hasn’t taken home a Section championship banner since 2007, the last title of its three-in-a-row string. During that span the Herd won 18 straight playoff games, never tasting travel through the losers’ bracket of any double elimination, post-season series.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sheldon, Franklin Relay Teams Shine At Masters

Sheldon High School’s 4X400 Meter Relay team took first place to highlight a contingent of local track and field athletes who placed in last week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters event held at Elk Grove High School.

The team of Cameron Stone, Taron Johnson, Drew Lang and Steven Edwards circled the Elk Grove-Laguna Creek Community Stadium oval in a time of 3:19.20 to win the gold medal in the event.

They were just .43 of a second faster than Monterey Trail’s team of C’Maje Ramseur, Jahmar Sexton, Isiah Bair and Adam Huynh who were second.

They along with eleven other Elk Grove-area athletes will now compete in the State Track and Field Meet in Clovis at Buchanan High School starting Thursday.

The top three finishers in each event qualified for the state meet. Also, any competitor besting a pre-set mark or time also qualified.

Another relay team that took first place was Franklin’s 4X100 Meter squad of Chinyere Dike, Jorden O’Neal, Desiree Winters and Ifunanya  Ezimora. Their winning time was 47.85 seconds. Monterey Trail was fifth and Cosumnes Oaks placed seventh, both out of the running for a berth in the state meet.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hockey Night In Stockton

Reading won the ECHL Kelly Cup, 6-0 over Stockton Saturday night at the Stockton Arena. The Royals won the best-of-seven series, 4-1. The best value around in professional sports is a night watching Thunder hockey in Stockton. My son, Max, and I have become fans of the area hockey franchise.

Members of the Reading Royals skate around
the ice of the Stockton Arena with the Kelly Cup
hoisted above their heads
The Thunder were outmatched in this series against a bigger, stronger team in the Royals. In the second period alone Saturday night, Reading had four goals, one of them short-handed, one on a power play and the other two were tip-ins off rebounds.

In an age when it is a dice roll as far as how vulgar a crowd is at area sports events, my experience thus far with Thunder hockey is good, fun-loving, hockey-loving fans who cheer loudly for their favorite players and the kind of action this sport brings.

The season is now over, but plan ahead next season to attend a few Thunder games.
The Taylor Cup, on display in the lobby of the Stockton
Arena. This was awarded the Thunder for winning ECHL's
Western Conference this season.

Friday, May 24, 2013

EG Wins D-I North Over Franklin, 4-2

The Elk Grove Thundering Herd for the ninth time has won the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I North baseball championship. Friday night they defeated Franklin, its Delta Valley Conference rival, for the fifth time in as many games this season, by the score of 4-2.

Once again, it was another strong pitching performance by the Herd's Mikey Wright who threw a complete-game eight-hitter.

The difference was a key fifth inning rally when the Herd scored three times on only one hit. They drew five bases-on-balls in that frame alone, twice with the bases loaded.

Afterwards, I talked with Herd shortstop Nick Madrigal who had a key run in the fifth and a double in the seventh. He made the game-ending catch on a running, over-the-shoulder grab in leftfield.

Elk Grove will now take on three-time defending champion St. Mary's for the Section championship May 31 and June 1, also at Sacramento City College. That will be a best two-out-of-three series.

Elk Grove last won the Division I North championship in 2010. It's last Section title came in 2007.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day One - SJS Masters' Track and Field

There were several EGUSD student/athletes who advanced to Friday's finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section's Masters' Track and Field Meet at Elk Grove High School. Here is a list of the athletes advancing in Thursday's preliminary races/events:

Girls' 4x100 Meter Relay
Monterey Trail
Cosumnes Oaks

Girls' 100 Meter Hurdles
Ciara Levy (M.T.)
Fiyin Olusola (C.0.)

Boys' 400 Meter Dash
Elijah Whitmore (C.O.)
Armando Martinez (E.G.)
Cameron Stone (SH.)

Girls' 100 Meter Dash
Natsumi Mcgee (C.O.)
Chinyere Dike (Fr.)

Boys' 800 Meter Run
Ben Garcia (P.G.)

Girls' 300 Meter Hurdles
Makayla Webb (Valley)
Ciara Levy (M.T.)

Girls' 200 Meter Dash
Natsumi Mcgee (C.O.)
Chinyere Dike (Fr.)
Daijah Joe-Smith (Florin)

Girls' 4X400 Meter Relay
Elk Grove

There were a few of the field events which staged its finals on Thursday. In the boys' triple jump, Romin Gieger of Monterey Trail placed third with a leap of 46 ft., 6.5 in. He became the first local athlete to qualify for the State Track and Field Meet in Clovis at Buchanan High School next week.

Tais Marinho-Gomez of Cosumnes Oaks and Tiara Webb of Monterey Trail both qualified for the state meet in the shot put. Marinho-Gomez was third in the event with a toss of 38 ft., 10 in. Webb's throw of 38 ft., 7 in. placed her fourth at the Masters, but was long enough to give her an at-large berth in Clovis next week.

There was one Section Masters record set by Center's Xavier Howell. He cleared the high jump bar at seven feet even, bettering the old record of 10 ft., 11.5 in. set in 1980 by Johnson High School's Ivan Morris.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

EG Beats PG, 5-0, To Advance To D-I North Championship

Elk Grove has ridden the back of ace pitcher David Smith all the way to the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I North baseball championship game.

The senior righthander has appeared in all four of the Herd’s playoff games, winning three of them. Two of those wins came in relief. 

Tuesday night was Smith’s most impressive outing thus far as he got the starting nod against Delta River League champion Pleasant Grove in the North Division I semi-final game at Sacramento City College. 
EGHS pitcher Dave Smith, who picked up third playoff
win with complete game shutout Tuesday.

Smith gave the Eagles a textbook lesson in pitching by throwing a complete-game four-hit shutout and Elk Grove defeated Pleasant Grove, 5-0. Smith had a season-high 13 strikeouts, walked no one, but did hit three batters. None of the Eagles reached third base.

In a bit of revenge for a stinging 11-1 loss to the Eagles and lefthander Josh Adams in the Northern California championship of the Boras Baseball Classic in March, Elk Grove this time took advantage of a pair of key errors in scoring three runs in the first inning and two more in the third.

Just like Elk Grove did in the loss to the Eagles in March, Pleasant Grove committed five errors Tuesday night.

All of the Herd runs came with two out. In the first frame, Dom Nunez reached first on a throwing error by Pleasant Grove shortstop Bronson Grubbs. Rowdy Tellez then chopped a ball into the dirt in front of the plate, but Eagle catcher Nico Toni misplayed it and the Herd had runners on first and second.

After Derek Hill walked, Mikey Wright lined a ball to deep right. Eagle outfielder Nick Doyich seemed to get his legs tangled as he backpedaled, lost his footing and the ball ticked off his glove. The bases cleared and Wright ended up on third with what was ruled as a triple.

In the third inning Tellez’ fly ball to center was dropped. Hill followed with a sharp ground ball that Eagle third baseman Matthew Stafford tried to backhand but whiffed. That put runners at second and third. Wright then delivered again, this time with a single to center to drive in both Elk Grove runners.

Herd's Mikey Wright, 5 RBI's Tuesday, likely
starter in Friday's championship game
Wright ended up driving in all five Herd runs Tuesday.

Elk Grove threatened to score more that inning by loading the bases with one out so Eagle coach Rob Rinaldi went to the bullpen and replaced Adams with Andrew Cisneros. He got Nick Madrigal to hit into an inning-ending double play.

After Smith retired the first ten Pleasant Grove batters in a row, Adams and Toni hit back-to-back singles in the fourth inning, but Smith coaxed Beau Boyle into an infield pop-up and struck out Austin Friello to end the threat.

The Eagles tried again to get on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Grubbs and Adams were both hit by Smith pitches to open that frame, but Toni flew out to right field and both Boyle and Friello struck out to end the inning.

The loss means that the Eagles now must play Franklin, 12-3 winners over Davis Monday, on Thursday night at Union Stadium. The winner will play Elk Grove Friday at 4 p.m. If that team beats the Herd, a second game in the double-elimination tournament will follow at 7 p.m.

It is likely Wright will start for Elk Grove in Friday's first game.

The last time Elk Grove was in the North Division I championship game was in 2010. That year, coming out of the losers’ bracket, the Herd beat Jesuit, 4-1 and 11-0, to win the North.

With a team that featured J.D. Davis (Fullerton State), Jake Rodriguez (Oregon State), Will Soto (Sacramento State) and Colby Brenner (Long Beach State), Elk Grove went on to the championship series but dropped two in a row to St. Mary’s of Stockton. Nunez and Tellez were both freshmen on that club.

St. Mary’s has won the last three Division I baseball championships. A year ago they defeated Franklin in two games.

The last Section championship won by Elk Grove was in 2007.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Franklin Scores Seven Times in 7th, Beats Davis

In the Division I North Sac-Joaquin Section championship's losers' bracket, Franklin used a seven-run seventh inning to defeat Delta Valley Conference champion Davis, 12-3.

The loss ends the season for the Blue Devils while the Wildcats, after beating Davis for the first time in four games this year, will advance to Thursday night where they will take on the loser of Pleasant Grove and Elk Grove. That winners' bracket game will be played at City College Tuesday night at  7 p.m.

Nick Frei drilled a solo homer to give Franklin the lead for good at 5-3 in the sixth inning.

Congrats to the Wildcat soccer team for winning the SJS D-1 championship with a 4-3 shootout on Saturday over Davis!!

In Div.1 South action Monday, Turlock stayed alive by eliminating Buhach Colony, 5-4, on a suicide squeeze bunt with two outs in the bottom of the 7th.

In the South winners' bracket, Pitman scored early then St. Mary's rallied to take a 8-6 win. This means Pitman will face Turlock Tuesday in the losers' bracket. The winner will then take on the Rams Wednesday for the South Section championship.

The Rams are the three-time defending SJS D-1 champions and have played in five of the last six SJS baseball championships.

In Div. 6 baseball, Bradshaw qualified for the championship best-two-out-of-three series by beating Ripon Christian, 7-0.

Div I Softball -

Vintage High School came into the post-season with a very rare undefeated record. That all ended Monday night when Pleasant Grove defeated the Crushers, 3-1. Catcher Amber Murray had a first-inning home run and then drove in another run with a single in the fifth inning.

The Crushers came back later Monday  to defeat Tracy, 8-0.

Rocklin rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Elk Grove, 4-3, in the winners' bracket of the Division I softball tournament at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

That means the Eagles take on the Thunder in the section semi-finals Tuesday night.

Late Monday, Elk Grove remained alive by one-hitting Enochs, 8-0. They will face Vintage Tuesday at 5 p.m. in a losers' bracket game.

Worth Listening To -

Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty interviewed Section Commissioner Pete Saco Saturday morning on the "Surewest Sports Radio Show" on ESPN 1320. It was a great interview and worth listening to because Saco talked about the realistic possibility that the CIF may in a couple years start limiting the length of practice time for each sport.

He's concerned about the number of student athletes playing club sports on top of the high school team sports and thinks it's beginning to burn out some kids and adds to the number of injuries.

C.Oaks Girls Win 3rd Straight D-IV Track Title

Cosumnes Oaks High School’s girls’ track and field team needed only eight athletes, two of them seniors, to win the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division IV championship for the third year in a row.

Once again it came down to the 4X400 meter relay for the Wolfpack to claim the team title with 74 points. Vista del Lago was second at 70 points while Oakdale was a distant third with 57 points.

The event was held at Sierra High School last Thursday.  
The Cosumnes Oaks H.S. Girls' Track team

The Wolfpack team of Natsumi McGee, Fiyin Olusola, Amor Howard and Lexi Becker finished third in the event, about a second behind Vista del Lago’s team, but the six points earned was enough to outdistance their Sierra Valley Conference rival for the Section banner.

The star for the Wolfpack was McGee who picked up wins in the 100 and 200 meters and was a part of the first-place 4X100 meters relay team. She’ll compete this week in the Section Masters’ Track and Field Championship in four events. 

The meet will take place Thursday and Friday at Elk Grove High School.

According to Cosumnes Oaks’ track coach Jeff Adams, McGee’s time of 12.34 seconds in the 100 meters will seed her number one overall.

At the Section Masters, the top qualifiers of all divisions compete for the right to advance to the California State Track and Field Meet, May 31 and June 1, at Buchanan High School.

Another member of the Wolfpack relay teams, Olusola, won the 100 meter hurdles with a season best of 15.09 seconds and was second in the 300 meter hurdles, again with a season-best of 46.77 seconds.

In the field events, Cosumnes Oaks was led by Mishaye Venerable who was first in the long jump (17 ft., 1.25 in.).

Tais Marinho-Gomez added a second place finish in the triple jump (36 ft. 2 in.) to round out the team scoring. 

There will be quite a number of other local athletes competing this week at the Section Masters, thanks to several good performances last Friday at the Division I meet held at Elk Grove High School.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mico, Tellez, Smith Lead EG To Win Over Franklin

DJ Mico has been a very typical role player for the Elk Grove Thundering Herd. He usually bats eighth or ninth in the lineup, is generally the first guy out of the dugout at the beginning of each inning to take his place in left field, the position he plays the most.

With a very talented group of baseball players new to the varsity squad this year, Mico, a senior, has seen the bench more than he probably likes, but he hasn’t complained.

“I’m not worrying about that this year,” he said. “I’m doing what I can to help the team win a championship right now.”

But, thus far in the playoffs, Herd head coach Jeff Carlson has started Mico in left and he’s delivered. Mico’s two-RBI triple in the fourth inning Saturday gave Elk Grove a 5-4 lead as the Herd came from behind to defeat crosstown rival Franklin, 9-6, in a game played at Sacramento City College.

“I got the opportunity to go out here and swing the bat,” Mico said. “It was a great experience.”

The win put Elk Grove into Tuesday’s semi-finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I North playoffs. All games are played at Union Stadium on the SCC campus.

Mico also drove in another run with a sacrifice flyball in the fifth inning giving Elk Grove some much needed hit support from the bottom part of the lineup.

Meanwhile the top of the Herd lineup continued its fierce hitting as Rowdy Tellez pounded his second home run in as many post-season games to lead off the fifth inning. Plus, he drove in an insurance run in the sixth inning on a single.

Dom Nunez had an RBI triple in the first inning. Mikey Wright also drove in a pair of runs.

For the third straight playoff game, Dave Smith came out of the bullpen. He picked up the win Saturday by retiring the first ten batters he faced after relieving starter Ty Madrigal with one out in the third inning.

At the time Elk Grove trailed, 4-3, and Franklin was threatening to add more.

Franklin had scored three runs in the first inning and added a fourth run in the second inning, but pitchers Trent Spallas and Cameron Keup couldn’t stop the Elk Grove bats.

The loss meant Franklin has to face the loser of Pleasant Grove and Davis, the late Saturday game at City College, on Monday night in the losers’ bracket.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inspirational Runner Leads EGHS To Strong D-I Track Showing

Jack Ploeg may only be a sophomore, but the Elk Grove High School runner is one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's top performers in the 800 meters and the 1600 meters. On Friday night at the Section's Division I Track and Field Championships, Ploeg finished fifth in the 1600 and 10th in the 800, both good enough to place him into next week's Section Masters event.

Ploeg is an inspiration to his teammates, even his opponents. He's autistic.  Yet through the leadership of his mother Jessie, Jack has overcome his disability to become a quality student in the classroom and on the track oval.

In between the finals in both of his events, I talked with Jack.

Other highlights from the Division I meet, held Friday at EGHS:

The Herd 4x100 relay team of Aiden Tank, Nicholas Bohamera, Armando Martinez and Brandon Bloodworth broke the school record with a mark of 42.47 seconds. That was good for third at the D-I meet.
EGHS' 4x100 meters relay team (L to R): Nicholas
Bohamera, Brandon Bloodworth, Armando Martinez
and Aiden Tank

Martinez came back later to place third in the 400 meters. Sheldon's Cameron Stone was second.

Ciara Levy of Monterey Trail was second in the girls' 100 meter hurdles.

Franklin's Chinyere Dike was first in the girls' 100 meters with a time of 12.47 seconds. Dike led the 4x100 meter relay team to a first place finish in that event. She was joined by Ifunanya Ezimora, Cecily Montanez and Desiree Winters.

Monterey Trail's 4x100 meter relay team placed third and Sheldon was seventh.

Kamaya Tucker of Laguna Creek won the 200 meters in a time of 25.16 seconds. Dike was third in that event.

In the field events, Elk Grove's Jaime Cruz was ninth in the shot put. Richard Cooper of Pleasant Grove was second in the long jump and Monterey Trail's Roman Geiger was third. Tiara Webb of Monterey Trail placed third in the girls' long jump.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blog Notebook

I got quite a smattering of things, so here we go ....

Remember Emily Caruthers? She was a part of the 2009 Pleasant Grove softball team that won the Sac-Joaquin Section championship in an upset win over Jolene Henderson/Danielle Henderson/Lindsey Ziegenhirt's Sheldon Huskies.

I got this video above sent to me by her father, Stephen, of Emily with a bunt single. She was just named First Team All-Ivy League this week. She's playing her college softball for Columbia.

"I am most proud of her hard work at school and (she is) now fluent in Chinese," he wrote in an email. 

Emily, who batted .344 and stole 17 bases, a school record, this season, is planning on spending her summer in China on a special internship. Caruthers has just completed her junior year at Columbia where she is majoring in economics.

Whitham Named H.S. All-American in Lacrosse

Harley Whitham, a junior at Franklin  High School, was named a high school All-American as a lacrosse goalie. Below is a video of Whitham in action, playing for his local lacrosse team, the Elk Grove Gladiators.

This season the Gladiators were 16-3 and made it to the NorCal semifinals. Named to the all-NCJLA team, besides Whitham, were  Billy Huss, Nicholas Spencer and Lane Kiracofe.

EG Wins 8-Inning Thriller, Franklin Upsets O.R.

A pair of EGUSD baseball teams won key first round games Wednesday night to advance to Saturday where the Delta Valley Conference rivals will face off against each other in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I North playoffs.

In the opener at Sacramento City College's Union Stadium, Elk Grove eliminated defending Division II champion Woodcreek, 8-5, in an eight-inning thriller.

Franklin upset Delta River League co-champion Oak Ridge, 4-1, in the nightcap behind Connor Adams' complete game seven-hitter.

In winning its second consecutive single-elimination playoff game, the Herd beat Oregon-bound right hander Stephen Nogosek on Rowdy Tellez' RBI single in the top of the eighth inning which scored Carlos Moseley. Two batters later Dave Smith drove in Dom Nunez on a sacrifice fly. The relay throw from left field went past the third baseman and into the Elk Grove dugout which allowed Tellez to also score on the play for Elk Grove's third run of the inning.

Smith, who came on in relief for the second straight game, picked up the win by pitching the final two-and-two-thirds innings.

(Listen to my post-game interviews with Wright and Smith)

Tellez was three-for-three at the plate including a first-inning moon shot to give Elk Grove an early 2-0 lead.

Woodcreek was down 5-3 going into the sixth inning, but tied up the game when Herd starter Mikey Wright walked one and hit the next batter. Nogosek and Cy Hines each followed with an RBI single to tie the game. Smith came out of the bullpen to get Timberwolves' starting pitcher Tyler Milani to hit into a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.

The game got real intense in the bottom of the seventh inning when Woodcreek's Alex Montes opened with a line drive to deep left-centerfield. Herd outfielders Peyton Wheatley and Derek Hill collided trying to field the ball and Montes was safe at second.

Dylan Spieza then popped up a ball in foul territory. First baseman Tellez caught the ball in front of the Woodcreek dugout and his momentum took him out of play. That allowed Spieza to advance to third.

With the winning run 90 feet away and one out, Smith then struck Dylan Bell with a big curveball for called strike three. After walking George Corp, Smith battled for 12 pitches against Hank Pankratz. Pankratz at one stage fouled off five consecutive two-strike offerings from Smith. He finally grounded out to Herd shortstop Nick Madrigal to end the threat.

With the win, it put Elk Grove into the second round of the playoffs against Franklin, the third seed from the DVC and the defending North Division I champions. The game will be at Union Stadium at noon Saturday.

Franklin battered around Oak Ridge ace Austin Root for 11 hits, three each by Hank LoForte and Tyler Blake. Blake had a solo homer in the fifth inning, his fourth in as many games.

Notes --

The Trojans entered the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak. Tonight the other DRL co-champion Pleasant Grove will open the post-season in a game with Vacaville, the Monticello Empire League winners.

Blake went with a smaller bat the last three game and has pounded the ball. He said it's a bit shorter and he grips it with his little finger off the bat.

Franklin head coach Bryan Kilby called Adams "a real bulldog" after his complete game win. He's very pleased with the way the Wildcats are now hitting the ball. They lost all three games this season to Elk Grove.

[Listen to my post-game interview with Bryan Kilby]

Nogosek, who came on in relief for Woodcreek in the sixth inning, was impressive by striking out five Elk Grove batters, yet he also walked four. Scouts sitting in front of the press box regularly clocked his fastball on their jugs guns between 91 and 93 mph.

Smith remarked afterwards he hasn't faced anyone who could throw the ball that hard. He admitted he was a bit lucky to drive the ball to left field as well as he did to drive in the two insurance runs in Elk Grove's eighth inning.

The other game tonight at SCC will pit Jesuit against Davis, the DVC champion.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Elk Grove Holds Off Vintage

Ty Madrigal wasn’t feeling very good Monday. But the Elk Grove sophomore pitcher knew he needed to answer Coach Jeff Carlson’s call to start in the Herd’s biggest game thus far this season.

“He did a good job of keeping us in the game, despite feeling a little under the weather today,” Carlson said.

What Madrigal did was hold a scrappy Vintage High School team at bay for four innings to allow Elk Grove, the second seed from the Delta Valley Conference, to jump out to a 7-1 lead and then hold on for a 9-6 win over the Crushers to open the Division I North Sac-Joaquin Section baseball tournament at Wackman Field.

“After watching him last week I felt as though he gave us a good match-up,” Carlson said. “(Madrigal) did a good job holding their guys on because they run well on the base paths.” 
Elk Grove pitcher Ty Madrigal

After pitching a rocky fourth inning that included a pair of Elk Grove errors, four Vintage runs and three hits, Madrigal went to the bench and started throwing up, still feeling the affects of the flu. Carlson went the final three innings with staff ace David Smith to put a lid on the Crushers.

Smith gave up a run on three hits, struck out one and walked three in his relief appearance.

The big bats of the Herd kept knocking the Crushers’ pitchers around, getting 13 hits. Senior Dom Nunez, in his final game at Wackman Field, was three-for-four with a pair of RBI’s.

“I just played the game hard and tried to get as dirty as possible,” he grinned, wearing a layer of infield dirt soiled on his jersey.

The Second Season Starts Today

The baseball post-season gets underway this afternoon with several single-elimination "play-in" games around the area. I'll be tweeting updates from Vintage vs. Elk Grove this afternoon.

There's a couple good stories worth reading. Joe Davidson wrote a good story this morning about Elk Grove's senior duo of Rowdy Tellez and Dom Nunez. The pair have been close to a Section championship a couple times in their previous three years at EGHS. They'd like to go out on top.

Matt Barrows has a note on former Herd offensive tackle and current 49er Kenny Wiggins. He's been on the practice roster the last couple seasons. He's hoping for a full roster spot this fall in San Francisco.

Softball playoffs get started tomorrow around the area. More on those games tomorrow.

On the collegiate side, congrats to the Cal Bears for being selected to participate in the Michigan regional this week in Ann Arbor. Besides the host Wolverines, the Bears will also see Valapraiso and Central Michigan in this regional.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Henderson Back But Cal Loses

Seattle, Wash. - Cal senior Jolene Henderson entered the pitching circle Thursday for the first time since April 21, taking the loss in a 7-4 defeat against Washington. She gave up one run in her one inning of work.

Henderson (29-8) injured her knee on a routine play in the infield in a 2-1 loss to Oregon State and had been held out of action. In that stretch with a pair of freshman pitchers, Cal went 0-8.

Henderson entered Friday’s game with the Huskies for five innings, making her presence felt by allowing only two hits, a run and a walk while fanning five before the game was sent into extra innings. Cal ended up losing 9-8 in nine innings, its ninth loss in a row. 
Cal's Jolene Henderson

Going into Saturday’s regular season finale, the Bears are 35-17, 9-14 in the Pac-12, yet with a chance to qualify for the NCAA Women’s Softball Championships. The latest USA Today/ESPN poll has the Golden Bears ranked 20th in the nation.

Earlier in the week it was announced that Henderson, a Sheldon High School graduate, is one of the ten finalists for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. She broke the record for all-time wins earlier this season and now stands at 127 career victories. Henderson has a 1.21 ERA this year. Tack on to that a .248 batting average with seven home runs and 19 RBI.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

D-I Softball - An EGUSD Thing

Typically the team to beat every year for the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I softball championship hails from Elk Grove. Over the past seven years the champion has been Sheldon (four times), Elk Grove (once), Pleasant Grove (once) or Franklin (once).

[The Division I SJS Softball Playoff Brackets]

This season Sheldon and Franklin will have to play on Tuesday in a single elimination "out bracket" game before they can advance to the Sacramento Softball Complex on May 18 and open the rest of the crowd. The Huskies, the two-time defending champions, will face Napa at Mary Jo Truesdale Field at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will advance and take on West Saturday.

Franklin will take on Lodi on the road Tuesday. The winner of that contest plays Vintage.

Elk Grove won the Delta Valley Conference championship this year by trouncing Davis 11-1 in five innings on Wednesday.

Pleasant Grove with its 14-0 shutout of Folsom Tuesday took the Delta River League championship.

Those wins earned both squads a bye to the tournament's Saturday opening round.

If you want to believe polls, the top teams this season in D-I may be in the Sierra Football League. As in baseball, those clubs have been moved up this spring from Division II.

Woodcreek, Rocklin and Roseville have been atop most of the local softball polls all year with Elk Grove ranked behind them.

If one of those clubs grab the Division I crown this spring, it will be the first time a non-EGUSD team has won the softball banner since Vacaville did so in 2005.

Div I Baseball Brackets Set - Oak Ridge, Davis Favored

The Sac-Joaquin Section posted the brackets for the Division I baseball playoffs late Wednesday. With the Sierra Foothill League added to the Division I post-season for the first time this spring, it adds to the excitement and intensity of the post-season.

The top three teams from that league will join the top trio of the Delta Valley Conference, the Monticello Empire League and the Delta River League in a 12-team bracket. All the first place teams will open action either Wednesday or Thursday, drawing an opening round bye. The winners from those four games will move onto a double-elimination part of the playoffs.

At this point of time there is no clear cut favorite. If it was a month or two ago I would have said, with some confidence, it would be Elk Grove heads above everyone else. Now, it isn't that certain.

They have the three best area high school players in Rowdy Tellez, Dom Nunez and Derek Hill, warranted by the fact that following four home games this year they took batting practice before an audience of professional baseball scouts for about 45 minutes each time. (Quick apologies to other great ball players like Pleasant Grove's Josh Adams, Franklin's Tyler Blake and Woodcreek's Steve Nogosek).

But, coach Jeff Carlson has decided to surround these three with sophomores and a freshman. What has happened is that seniors like D.J. Mico, Robert Ortega and Dave Smith have seen play time limited. Smith is the team's mound ace, but he's also a quality third baseman and has a solid bat. So do Mico and Ortega.

What's happened is that the frosh/soph contingent have looked nervous and out-of-place in at-bats against quality opposing pitchers like Pleasant Grove's Adams, Bradshaw's Austin Ragsdale and Davis' Adam Inouye and Matt Trask.

The run production from the younger guys hasn't been there. The older, more mature seniors would likely be able to handle the pressure better.

In a year where Elk Grove has such high-profile nationally-recognized guys like Nunez, Tellez and Hill, it would be a shame if the Herd doesn't sweep right through Section playoffs. They may, but the number six through nine guys in the lineup need to put up runs and key hits.

So Who Will Win The D-I North?

The hottest team is Oak Ridge, who tied P.G. for the DRL title. They concluded the regular season with a 12-game winning streak. Head coach Todd Melton told me a couple weeks back he's impressed with how well his team is playing.

Davis looked really good in the two wins against Elk Grove, but was blown up last week in a 12-2 loss to the Herd. The Blue Devils have ended the season on a high note by beating the Herd Tuesday in a 3-2 walkoff win.

Pleasant Grove gutted out a two-out-of-three series over Jesuit earlier this week. Matt Stafford has been great on the mound and at the plate this year along with shortstop Bronson Grubbs.

Bill Poindexter of the Roseville Press-Tribune keeps reminding me that the road to the D-I North title runs through Woodcreek. I haven't seen them (I did see Rocklin twice) but Poindexter says the SFL was loaded with good teams and quality players this season. Granite Bay is a team to watch.

Vacaville won the MEL this season and they were the team to eliminate Elk Grove last year.

What this means is that there is no clean favorite in Division I. This may be the best set of high school games we've seen in several years.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Davis Grabs DVC Baseball Crown

Davis – Davis High School ended Elk Grove’s four-year stranglehold of the baseball championship of the Delta Valley Conference with Matt Trask’ bases-loaded line-drive single in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 3-2 win over the Herd Tuesday.

The single came off Elk Grove ace pitcher Dave Smith (7-2) who came on that inning in relief of starter Mikey Wright who had thrown six solid innings for the Herd.

The Blue Devils, with the win, finished the DVC slate with a 14-1 mark, 21-6 overall. Elk Grove concluded the conference season at 13-2, both losses at the hands of Davis.

But, the game ended under protest by Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson who said that Blue Devil second baseman Joe Murray, ejected in last Friday’s 12-2 Herd win, was in uniform and in the dugout. He claims any time a coach or player is ejected they not only cannot participate in their team’s next game, but they also cannot be on the premises. 

“I know (the rule) because I’ve been thrown out of enough games,” Carlson admitted. “(Murray) was playing catch and everything.”

Because it was the final regular season home game for the Blue Devils, head coach Dan Ariola had asked Murray join all seniors for a pre-game ceremony.

A Sac-Jaoquin Section official told the Citizen late Tuesday that Carlson is incorrect. If a player is ejected from a game, he can be on the bench the next game, but cannot play. The rule that the ejected participant cannot attend the team's next game applies only to coaches.

Carlson was steamed once again with the umpiring at Tuesday’s game, much like the April 12 game at Davis, a 2-1 Blue Devil win.

 He was referring to the first of the Blue Devils’ two runs in the third inning when Trey Golston tried to score on an infield pick off play. Much like Murray’s collision with Elk Grove catcher Dom Nunez in last Friday’s game that earned Murray an ejection, Carlson complained Golston should have been called out for not sliding into home on the play.

(see photos of the collision on Rick Cabral's Baseball Sacramento website)

“That’s a huge call,” Carlson said. “It wasn’t even close. The guy didn’t even slide and came in high on Dom. It’s just ridiculous.”

Protest and umpiring aside, the Herd once again struggled against quality pitching. Davis’ Bobby Young, who threw the first five-and-two-thirds innings, and limited Elk Grove to three hits. Adam Inouye, who came on in the sixth inning with two runners aboard, struck out Ty Madrigal to end an Elk Grove rally.

“Once again we don’t do enough offensively to overcome (Davis),” Carlson said.

Elk Grove scored once in the first inning on Rowdy Tellez’ RBI double.

The Herd tied the game at two in the sixth on Wright’s sacrifice fly ball.

Elk Grove, now 21-5 overall, has scheduled at the last minute a non-conference game with Pioneer High School, scheduled for Thursday, to conclude the regular season. They will open the playoffs next Monday at home against the Monticello Empire League's third seed. 

“It’s just an extra game,” Carlson said of the playoff format whereby each of the Division I second and third-place teams must play a single elimination “play-in” game. “With Dave Smith and Mikey Wright (on the mound) it’s not a big deal.”

“Of course, if you don’t show up Monday it’s one game and you’re out,” Carlson added.

In the DRL, Jesuit defeated Pleasant Grove Monday, 4-1. This sets the stage for the Wednesday regular season finale at Jesuit between the two clubs. If Jesuit wins and Oak Ridge defeats Ponderosa Wednesday it means the Marauders and Trojans will share the DRL title, but Jesuit will get the number one seed for the league because they beat Oak Ridge two-out-of-three games earlier this year.

Pleasant Grove would then take on the Sierra Foothill League's number two seeded team.

If the Eagles win Wednesday then Oak Ridge would earn the DRL's top seed because they defeated Pleasant Grove two-out-of-three games this season. Jesuit would then get the third seed.

Division I Playoff Bracket