Saturday, June 01, 2013

Elk Grove Takes SJS Div-I Title

Elk Grove High School seniors Rowdy Tellez and Dom Nunez may have saved some of their best baseball for the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I championship series against St. Mary’s of Stockton Friday and Saturday at Sacramento City College.

The Herd clinched their fifth Section banner in the last 11 seasons Saturday with a dominating 11-2 win over the Rams to end St. Mary’s three year stranglehold on D-1 baseball.

Elk Grove Thundering Herd - 2013 SJS Div. I champs
In the title clincher, Tellez was four-for-five with four RBI’s including two doubles and a screeching line drive over the right field fence, about 375 feet away, in the third inning. He drove in Carlos Moseley in the first frame with a double. He tacked on an RBI single in seventh inning to drive in Elk Grove’s final run.

For the post-season, he batted .600 (12-for-20 with three homers and 11 RBI’s) yet said the Section championship was a total team win.

“A Section title is all that matters,” the big first baseman said. “I gave it my all and left it on the field and it shows in the scoreboard.”

“We put 20 runs on this team in two games,” he added. “It shows we played as a team.”

With Elk Grove leading 3-0, Nunez opened the fifth inning with a towering homer to right – the first of five runs for the Herd in that inning as they performed surgery on the St. Mary’s pitching.

In all, Elk Grove had one of its most impressive offensive performances, smacking 17 hits in Saturday’s win.

“When you win a Section title in a convincing fashion, you’ve saved your best for last,” Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson said. “That’s the best hitting performance we’ve had all year.”

The win secured the fifth Section championship at Elk Grove under Carlson, the first since 2007.

On the mound, Mikey Wright once again followed David Smith with another solid outing. He went the distance, scattering five hits, in winning his seventh game of the year against no losses.

The pair accounted for all but one of Elk Grove’s wins in the playoffs. Smith tacked on a pair of saves during the post-season.

The pair of wins also avenged a couple painful losses in 2010 to St. Mary’s, the last time Elk Grove played for a Section championship. In that series, the Rams beat up Herd pitching for 30 runs in two games. Nunez and Tellez were starting freshmen infielders in that series.

“They came out and thought they were the best thing ever and they put it on us,” Tellez recalled. “Me and Dom, we had a chip on our shoulder and we thought if we ever get these guys again, it wasn’t happening. We were going to reverse the scores and we did.”

When the victory dog pile was done and photos and hugs exchanged Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson got a chance to reflect on an emotional 2013 season, one in which the team had an impressive 29-5 record. It was another talented squad, like so many during his 13 seasons at the Elk Grove helm, full of players destined to be playing next spring at college and above.

“Every (championship) team is unique, but I don’t think I’ve had a team with has high a recognized pair of guys (in Tellez and Nunez),” Carlson said. “Our seniors stepped up the way we expected them to step up, did the job in the playoffs, which what we built for all year.”

The Herd scored 57 runs in its seven playoff games, but had to go extra innings against Sierra Foothill League champion Woodcreek to squeak out a 8-5, 8-inning win, in the second round of the North Division tournament.

“We needed some breaks in the playoffs and that’s what we got,” he remarked.

In that game, Woodcreek had the game-winning run at third base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. But, Smith struck out the next batter and got an inning-ending ground ball out.

“You can’t say enough about David Smith and Mikey Wright about their performances in the playoffs,” Carlson said. “When your starting pitching dominates like that, you just can’t pull them out and give your bullpen some (playoff) experience.”

Special, too, was the past few months because Carlson got the opportunity to coach his oldest son, Dylan, a freshman at Elk Grove who had an RBI single in the Herd’s five-run fifth, who now looks to have the potential to be a big power hitter the next three seasons.

“He wouldn’t be in there if I didn’t think he could get it done,” Carlson said. “And, the (assistant) coaches to make certain I was doing the right thing and they’ve backed it up (the decision to have Dylan in the lineup) and supported that.” 
EG Freshman Dylan Carlson

The younger Carlson had an RBI single in the five-run fifth inning to contribute to the hitting onslaught.

“He’s had to prove his spot in the lineup,” the elder Carlson said. “There’s been a ton of pressure to do that and he did that right down to today. He performed and had quality at bats when we’ve needed it.”

Carlson also talked openly about the courage shown by his wife Caryn over the past few months. She has had struggles recovering from transverse myelitis  which has restricted her to a wheelchair much of the time. Caryn, though, has attended all the games this season.

“This is all for her and her battle,” Carlson said. “We couldn’t be here today without the support we’ve had. That goes for our players who have had to adjust when I’ve had to leave practices early so that I could go with her to her rehab at times. And, for our assistant coaches who have had to pick up the slack.”

“We’ve had great support from the coaches, the players, the community, everybody,” he added. “I’m very grateful.”

There’s more excitement looming this week for both Nunez and Tellez. Both of them will be sitting on pins and needles awaiting a phone call from a Major League Baseball team. Thursday will be the first two rounds of the Amateur Draft of First Year Players. Rounds three through ten are scheduled for Friday.

The two teammates and best friends are projected high draft choices., in its rankings of the top 100 prospects, both high school and college, nationally have Nunez ranked 89th and Tellez 99th.

Baseball America magazine in its list of the top 500 prospects has Tellez ranked 59th and Nunez 65th.

Nunez plans an evening home with family Thursday, anxiously waiting to hear when he might be selected.

“I have no idea what may happen, but I still have UCLA in my back pocket,” he said.

On the other hand, Tellez was scurrying around the state this week. Sunday he will be in Los Angeles to try out in person for the Dodgers. Later in the day he will be in Oakland to work out for the A’s. Monday he will cross the bay for a tryout with the Giants.

On Tuesday he works out in Seattle. He’s likely going to be in San Diego for the first day of the draft, working out for the Padres.

“I hope I’m fishing that day,” Tellez said. “This draft stuff has me all nervous and up tight.”

If Tellez chooses not to go pro, he’ll be enrolling at USC in the fall and will be playing baseball for the Trojans.

Wright is on his way to San Jose State while Smith will soon be enrolling at Nevada-Reno where he’ll play his college baseball next spring. Outfielder D.J. Mico says he’ll be at UC – Davis next school year, while catcher Robert Ortega is planning on playing at Sacramento City College.

After the game was over Saturday, the ice bucket was not dumped on Carlson, but rather was poured over retiring assistant coach Dave Pinckney.

“I’m going to go play golf,” Pinckney chuckled.

He has been an assistant baseball coach since 1994, coaching the junior varsity squad for six seasons before stepping up as a varsity assistant. Pinckney has also been the head junior varsity football coach the past six seasons.

“I hung around for just for this group of seniors, they are so special,” Pinckney said.

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