Sunday, March 09, 2014

EG Baseball Loses To St. Francis

(Editor's Note: Check back here at the Sports Corner later Sunday for a re-cap of how our EG-area grapplers did at the State Wrestling, plus we'll talk about our minor leaguers in spring training and have the opening round schedule for the Nor-Cal Basketball Tournament)

Elk Grove head baseball coach Jeff Carlson has always believed in scheduling games  with the best teams no matter where in California his teams have to travel.

The reason is simple – face the best competition, the best pitching and your team is better prepared when conference and post-season games begin.

It’s worked quite well for Carlson. His Thundering Herd teams have won six Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 14 seasons. So when Carlson scheduled this spring’s non-conference games he knew this season, his 15th at the Elk Grove helm, wouldn’t be any easier.

On the heels of another Division I championship and with a number 11 ranking in California, he opened the 2014 season with a 7-3 win over the school they faced in last year’s finals, St. Mary’s of Stockton.

Then Saturday his team traveled to Mountain View to play in one of the nicest high school baseball stadiums in all the state and against the top-ranked squad in Nor-Cal according to Maxpreps and CalHiSports, St. Francis. Plus, the Lancers’ are the defending Central Coast Section champions.

In a pitching dual between Elk Grove’s Ty Madrigal and the Lancers’ John Gavin, St. Francis eked out a 2-1 win over the Herd.

In that game the entire bottom level backstop was lined by baseball scouts watching not only the two lefties dual it out, but also watch Elk Grove’s stud centerfielder Derek Hill and St. Francis’ promising catcher Tim Susnara, both players who have signed national letters of intent to attend Oregon next year.

Neither one got a hit in the game, but the crowd was entertained with Gavin’s complete game two-hitter as his struck out seven Elk Grove batters, walking just one.

Madrigal ended up going five innings allowing just a pair of hits, struck out three and walked five. The junior had a bit of a rocky second inning where the Lancers scored their first run.

Blake Billinger lead off with a single, Tyler Deason drew a walk and Madrigal then hit Ryan McSwain. Jeremy Ydens followed with a sacrifice fly to score Billinger.

Elk Grove got its only run in the third after James Santos reached first on an error, went to second on Nick Madrigal’s ground ball out. Hill then stroked a ground ball to deep short and the throw went wide of first allowing Santos to score.

The game remained tied at one until the bottom of the sixth when Carlson went to the bullpen and brought in sophomore Austin del Chairo. The stage may have been a bit too much for his varsity debut as he proceeded to give up walk, sacrifice bunt, walk, a hit batter and a walk.

Senior right hander Cody Barnes was brought in to get Ryan Johnson to hit into a double play and end the inning.

On Wednesday, the Herd opened the season by riding the pitching of junior lefthander Chris Martin to a win over the Rams.

The Madrigals celebrated their 17th birthday by each one getting two hits. Their half-brother Brooks Day also had a pair of hits in his varsity debut.

Martin allowed no runs, one hit and struck out five in the five innings he pitched.

The non-conference schedule doesn’t get any easier for Elk Grove this week as they host the number two-ranked team in Nor-Cal, number eight-ranked in the state, Valley Christian of San Jose. The game will begin Friday at 4 p.m.

More scouts are expected with camcorder, jugs gun and I-phones in hand because the Warriors have Baylor-bound pitcher Theron Kay as a likely starter against the Herd.

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