The Sac-Joaquin Section traditionally opens its baseball and softball playoffs with a win-or-go-home first round. This year the first two rounds will be played this way. Gone are the days of double-elimination brackets. Once you’re down to four teams in the semi-finals, there will be a best two-out-of-three set then there will be a single championship game for the Section banner.
So, with the season on the line in Tuesday’s first round of game, there was a mix of every kind of game; the major upset, the big upset, the almost-upset and then the occasional blow-out.
The Elk Grove Unified schools were found in each category listed above:
Major Upset – No. 16 Laguna Creek holds on and tosses Division II’s No. 1 seed, Woodcreek, out of the playoffs, 4-3.
Big Upset – In Division I No. 14 Central Valley (where is that?) sends No. 3 Elk Grove home, 3-2.
Almost Upset – Division I No. 2 Whitney comes from behind and then uses extra innings to defeat No. 15 Pleasant Grove, 6-5 in eight innings.
Another Almost Upset – Division II No. 6 Jesuit 1, No. 11 Armijo 0 in 10 innings.
Blow-outs – Division I top-seed Franklin 12, No. 16 Chavez 1. And, Division III No. 2 Del Campo 11, No. 15 Florin 1.
Laguna Creek 4, Woodcreek 3
The Timberwolves were 25-2 and had won 24 in a row until Tuesday. They figured on blitzing right through Division II competition but the 10-13 Cardinals had other ideas. Laguna Creek got on the board in the second inning with RBI singles by Matthew Tokunaga and Hunter Bottge and ended up scoring all their runs in that inning.
Ty Collum picked up the win pitching five innings, allowing just five hits. Jacob Halseth pitched the final two innings, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out one.
Laguna Creek now moves to the second round on Thursday. There they will face No. 8 Lodi, a 6-5 winner Tuesday over No. 9 Bear Creek.
Central Valley 3, Elk Grove 2
For the first time since 2008 the Thundering Herd is one-and-done in the baseball post-season. The Hawks’ Gabriel Lopez and Chris Garcia challenged the Elk Grove batters all day. Though they gave up a combined six walks and seven hits, they continued to dodge the big hit. Plus, Central Valley (by the way, it’s a school in Ceres) turned two double plays to end both the second and the third innings.
Eddie Fines drove in a run, plus had two hits for Elk Grove. But, the Hawks snuck across the winning run in the sixth inning, executing a first-and-third double-steal play when the Herd committed an error on the play.
Central Valley came into the game at 13-13 and was 6-6, fourth place in the Central California Conference. The Hawks celebrated wildly after Garcia got Ryan Zamora to line out to right with the tying and winning runs on base in the seventh inning.
“Give those guys credit,” Elk Grove coach Joe Bellotti said. “They scratched and clawed. They got it done. They were better than us today.”
Elk Grove ended the season at 20-9.
Whitney 6, Pleasant Grove 5 (8 inns.)
Tyler Allen’s single in the bottom of the eighth inning drove in the winning run for Whitney as the Wildcats clawed back from a 5-2 deficit. Bryce Davis kept the Eagles alive by throwing six-and-a-third innings of nine-hit baseball. Quiarte-Guzman drove in the first run of the game for Pleasant Grove with a second inning single. He scored on Taison Pierce’s single later the same inning.
Mason Ali’s triple drove in a run in the third. Zach von Miller tacked on another run with a line drive single in the fifth. Quiarte-Guzman’s ground ball out drove in a run on the next at-bat.
Pleasant Grove ended the season with a 9-20 record.
Franklin 12, Chavez 1
The Wildcats opened the post-season in a big way by defeating the Titans in five innings. Franklin had 11 hits, scoring in every inning. Jordy Lopez drive in three runs with a double and single. Dom Giusti and Nic Abraham each stroked home runs.
The Wildcats (23-5) now face No. 9 Vacaville at home. First pitch is at 4 p.m.
The top-seeded Bradshaw Christian Pride will host No. 8 Millennium Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Pride is 19-4 on the season.