Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 Championship --
University of the Pacific,
Defeats Franklin 8-2 -- Claims 3rd Straight D1
Brusa's 4-RBI Game Helps
Story and pics by Rick Cabral
All spring, St. Mary’s slugger
Gio Brusa has underwhelmed at the plate, batting in the low
.300s through the Section Championship series.
Gio Brusa is safe at home after a late throw to Franklin catcher
Nick Frei in the fourth inning of the Section DI Championship Game.
The Rams' slugger went 2x3 and had four runs batted in to lead St.
Mary's to an 8-2 victory.
But the strapping senior left
no doubt today he is one of Northern California’s premier players, knocking in
four runs to lead the Rams to an 8-2 win over Franklin and their third straight
Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship. St. Mary’s becomes just the second
school to "threepeat" in the history of the Sac-Joaquin Division I playoffs. Elk
Grove’s teams of 2005-2007 first accomplished the feat.
The senior pitching duo of
Sam Held and Michael Rishwain split
the mound chores for the Rams this afternoon, holding Franklin to just two hits
through six and two-thirds innings, when the Wildcats mounted a last-gasp
seventh-inning rally to post one more run on the board by doubling their hit
total on an RBI single by reserve Daniel Chavez. They ended
with four total.
The same number of errors Franklin made on defense.
“It just wasn’t our day,” said
Franklin head coach, Bryan Kilby.
“But you’ve got to tip your cap to them. It was a great ride for those guys (St.
Franklin coach Bryan Kilby gives a reassuring pat on the back
to Wildcats hitter Connor Adams in the Section DI Championship
St. Mary’s, the visiting team
today, came out and scored two runs in the first inning. Franklin senior pitcher
Josh Pigg hit the first batter
Kyle Cortopassi, who advanced to
third on a wild pitch, a stolen base and then scored on a passed ball. Pigg then
walked the cleanup hitter J.J.
Wagner on a full count, Wagner stole second and the left-handed hitting
Brusa smoked a single into right field that was misplayed, allowing Wagner to
score. With the miscue, the Rams opened up a quick 2-0 lead.
Franklin answered in the
second when they loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batsman given up
by St. Mary's starter, Held. Connor
Adams hit a fielder’s choice to short, scoring Tyler Blake. With runners at third and second
and only one out, the Wildcats were threatening. But on a comebacker to the
pitcher both runners held for the putout at first base and then the next batter
struck out, limiting the Wildcats' damage to one run.
The game pivoted in St. Mary’s
favor in the fourth inning. Leading 3-1, Brusa led off and smoked a ball off the
chest of first baseman Blake, who was unable to gather it in time, and was
charged with a tough error. Next, Pigg tried to pick off the runner and threw
the ball away, enabling Brusa to advance to second. He moved to third on a
single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter, Jeremy Farnsworth to give the Rams a 3-1
In the bottom half of the
fourth, Franklin rallied on a Kyle
Zanzi walk. But when Kyle Von
Ruden popped out behind the first base bag, Zanzi was caught napping and
doubled off the base, erasing a promising threat.
In the fifth, St. Mary’s broke
it open. Pigg obviously had reached his limit and was leaving pitches up in the
zone. He walked the first two batters, but got the next two outs. Up next was
Brusa, who blasted a triple to the 405 marker in left center field, easily
scoring the two runners. That widened the Ram’s lead to 5-1 and Kilby moved Pigg
to the outfield. Brusa would score on a base hit, and St. Mary’s was ready to
leap the fence to begin their third consecutive dogpile under coach Pete
Gio Brusa tripled in the fifth inning on this pitch from Josh Pigg,
knocking in two runs,
and widening St. Mary's lead to 5-1 in the Section DI Championship
After the game, Brusa admitted
that he’d allowed the scouts’ chatter of his potential top draft status get in
his head. Pilj complained that his star player had been changing his swing
because “(the scouts) wanted to leave their mark.” Just this week, Brusa
realized he needed to focus on “the threepeat, the championship, that was most
important, and just go out and play.”
And he had his biggest day of
the season. Which can’t hurt his draft status next week.
Baseball America has rated
Brusa the 35th best player in California and 177th
overall. The left-handed hitter—who resembles a young Ted Williams both facially
and at the plate—has been told he could go in the top three rounds but more
likely will go between the fifth and seventh rounds.
Meantime, Brusa has committed
to University of the Pacific, so if he doesn’t go pro, he will continue to play
at Klein Field, where he finished his high school career with a bang
St. Mary’s will miss Number 5
and the other seven starting seniors who won’t be back next year. Given Pijl’s
record, he’ll find a way to reload, as St. Mary’s has played for the DI
championship five of the past six years (losing to Elk Grove in 2007 and Jesuit
in 2009), and winning the last three.
Franklin should be stocked
next year. Led by Blake and Zanzi, they return 15 juniors, plus freshman
starting shortstop Hank
“You can’t practice
experience, you’ve got to earn it,” Kilby offered, pointing to the postgame
celebration on St. Mary’s side. “(Our guys) got to see what it takes and what
it’s like. They got a little taste of it today.” He's excited to start the next
But he'll gladly take some
time off and admire his team's incredible achievement: winner's of their last 11
of 13 regular season games, five of six playoff games earning a Section North
Title, and the experience of playing the best of the best in the Section
Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 Championship --
University of the
Pacific, Stockton, Calif.
Takes Game One From Franklin 4-2
Game Two tomorrow at
Rams One Game Away from Rare
The Franklin Wildcats came up a little short tonight in the first game of a
best-of-three series against defending DI Section Champion, St. Mary's of Stockton
at Klein Field at University of the Pacific.
Franklin senior Kyle Von Ruden
pitched six strong innings, giving up only four hits, while striking out six.
St. Mary's starter Joey
Caffese (6-2-1) also allowed
four hits, but limited the Wildcats to just two runs on a triple by junior
Kyle Zanzi in the third inning. Kyle Cortopassi came in at the seventh inning to close the game for the
"This was a real good high school game," said Franklin head coach
after the game. "Out team battled out
Tomorrow the two teams meet again at noon with senior
Josh Pigg, Franklin's ace, going against St. Mary's starter
Rishwain, who is 8-2. If St.
Mary's wins, they'll have accomplished a rarity in Sac-Joaquin Division I
Baseball: a threepeat. The Rams (26-6), coached by Pete Pijl, have won the
section championship the past two years. Only the Elk Grove Thundering
Herd--led by head coach Jeff
Carlson--have won three championships in a row which they accomplished from
If Franklin (22-11) wins, there will a third and deciding game three to
Section Division I Championship
Franklin vs. St.
Mary's of Stockton
Friday-Saturday, June 1-2, 2012
University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif
Leads Franklin to the Big Dance
As a first-year high school coach, Franklin’s Bryan Kilby is
living the dream.
He has led his team to the Sac-Joaquin Division 1 Section Championship series this
weekend against two-time defending champion St. Mary’s Rams (25-6) of Stockton. The
two teams begin a best two-out-of-three on Friday evening, followed by Game Two
(and if necessary Game Three) on Saturday afternoon at University of the Pacific in
Bryan Kilby addresses his team after winning the Section North
Championship against Davis,
earning the right to play St. Mary's of Stockton for the Section
Championship this weekend.
It’s unusual for a first-time head coach to take his team to the Big Dance. And yet
this season we’ve seen two local coaches do it. On Memorial Day, Eric Valencia saw
his Woodcreek Wolverines take the Division II championship in his first year at the
While Kilby’s Wildcats (22-10) started the season slowly,
mainly due to injuries to two key players (Kyle Von Ruden
and Tyler Blake), they won 11 of 13 games at the end of the
regular season, earning the number-three seed in the Delta Valley Conference
and the right to play an outbracket game against Vintage High. Von Ruden went
the distance and the Wildcats won their first post-season game in the
school’s history, while securing a berth in the Division I North
From there things heated up for Franklin.
Starting pitcher Josh Pigg and his teammates stunned star pitcher Zack Stilwell and
the number-one Delta River seed Pleasant Grove, 11-5. In the following game against
Elk Grove, Blake pitched a gem, only allowing a home run to Rowdy
Tellez, as the Wildcats took their second game 9-1.
Then in the winner’s bracket game against Davis, the Blue Devils took a 6-5 lead
into the top of the seventh. Down to their last strike, Franklin’s Pigg shot a
single up the middle to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Then the
Wildcats scored two more runs in the eighth to win it, 8-6.
They clinched the Division 1 Section North Championship Friday night 3-2 at
Sacramento City College, after Davis won the first game 5-3.
Although St. Mary’s is considered the big bully on the block—having defeated two
very fine Sacramento area teams in Elk Grove in 2010 and Jesuit in 2011—Kilby likes
his team’s chances. “We can compete with anybody,” he says, somewhat bristling at
the David and Goliath allusion. “Our kids have had that mentality all year long,
and we’re looking forward to playing St. Mary’s.”
Now in his 13th season coaching high school baseball, you can trace his
lineage to his prep playing days at Laguna Creek.
As a player under Todd Melton (now head coach at Oak Ridge High),
Kilby knew where his talents lay. Unlike younger brother Brad, who starred for the
Cardinals in high school in 2001 and signed with and eventually played for the
Oakland Athletics, Bryan participated in high school ball strictly for the love of
Melton remembers he was a “utility guy, caught a little, played infield. And he had
a real good personality.
We (coaches) used to say ‘He’s going to be a coach someday.’”
In fact, the Cardinals coaching staff kiddingly called Bryan “Coach Kilby” because
it was evident he had the leadership and respect of his teammates.
After graduation, Kilby attended Sac State but decided not to try out for baseball.
Instead, he concentrated on communications (where he thought he would become a
sports broadcaster) then later decided to go into coaching and focus on social
sciences to emulate his athletic and scholastic mentors.
Melton gave Kilby his first coaching opportunity, when as an 18-year-old, Bryan
coached the Laguna Creek freshman team. The following year, he and Mike
Cody shared the coaching responsibilities of the JV squad, collaborating
there for several years.
When Cody got the head coaching job at Franklin, Kilby went along and remained on
the staff as an assistant until Cody elected to step down last summer. As the
Wildcats’ athletic director, and with a young family to raise, Cody found the
additional time constraints of running a baseball program too much.
Kilby was appointed the new head coach and asked his good friend Cody to stay on
his staff. Mike obliged, as did brother Brad, who coordinates the pitching duties
after an injury last year with the River Cats sidelined him from playing. Coach
Kilby is highly complimentary and appreciative of his staff, who he says does a
They’re in for the challenge of their young careers as they go up against the
section’s best in St. Mary’s, which is led by the ever-feisty Pete
Should be a good battle, one that Bryan Kilby began preparing for years ago on the
diamonds at Laguna Creek.
Sac-Joaquin Section Division II
Sacramento City College
Woodcreek 9, Granite Bay 2
The Woodcreek Timberwolves rode “Nogo” the Big Horse right
down to the finish and they’re celebrating a Division II Championship for it
Despite not having his “best stuff” junior righthander
Stephen Nogosek dominated the Granite Bay Grizzlies and the
‘Wolves won 9-2 and finished the season 24-7. Nogosek allowed just two hits, three
walks and struck out “only” six batters to earn the win and finish the season
Stephen Nogosek dominated the Grizzlies lineup all night long.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Blatnick.
As the celebration erupted on the field,
Shaun Mize grabbed fellow senior
Austin Hagarty by the back of the
jersey and screeched, “Can you frickin’ believe we just won it?!?”
Woodcreek’s first-year head coach Eric
Valencia wasn’t quite that giddy but still showered superlatives on his star
pitcher, Nogosek. “He battled through a couple of rough innings, but he’s our
horse. Very competitive,” said Valencia. “I don’t think he had his best stuff, but
he had his good stuff. He threw strikes and competed.”
Shaun Mize brought delivered
an RBI with this smooth swing in the second inning.
Mize also knows how to
as shown on this excellent defensive play at shortstop.
Austin Blatnick drove in two runs on the single in the fourth
Photo courtesy of (uncle) Nathan Blatnick.
Ryan Rosa leaps
for this throw on an attempted steal.
Photo courtesy of Nathan
Jordan Long and friends kept the Granite Bay rooting section
charged all evening long, even when their team fell behind.
Valencia also praised Hagarty’s 2-run double in the second inning as the big blow
of the game.
As dominant as Woodcreek was with Nogosek was on the mound, Granite Bay’s Achilles
Heel this evening was their defense, which made three errors.
In top half of the second, Woodcreek had runners on first and second. Austin Blatnick’s bunt to the right side was
fielded by Granite Bay first baseman Mitch
Hart, who made a strong throw to third for the force out. Before the cheers had
died down on the Grizzlies side, catcher Aaron Knapp returned a throw to Brendan Keeney and the ball inexplicably sailed
over the pitcher’s head and into center field, easily scoring the runner from third
Woodcreek capitalized on the mistake.
then drew a walk, loading the bases. Team leader Mize singled to knock in a run.
Hagarty followed with that double that brought home two more runs, giving Woodcreek
a 4-0 lead.
The way Nogosek was declawing the Grizzlies, they could have made the plaque
presentation right there.
The ‘Wolves poured in two more in the third and three additional runs in the fourth
inning, the big hit coming from Blatnick, who knocked in two runs with a single. By
this point, it was clear Keeney, the Granite Bay senior, wasn’t fooling the ‘Wolves
lineup. Pat Esposito then brought in
the first of three Granite Bay relief pitchers.
In all, Woodcreek amassed nine hits, eight walks, and capitalized on the three
Granite Bay’s assistant coach, showered praise on Woodcreek’s junior pitcher,
Nogosek.“He was throwing good, especially for all the pitches he’s made in the last
10 days,” Barr said. “He came out tonight and battled hard. It looked like he was
getting tired in the middle innings. But he found another gear and kicked it back
in. He’s a workhorse. That’s how he throws and he’s a good pitcher.”
Barr knows a bit about the position, as he pitched 12 seasons in the major leagues
(10 for the San Francisco Giants) and was the pitching coach for Sacramento State
for 16 years.
Barr agreed that Granite Bay (23-8) didn’t put the bat on the ball as they’ve done
all year. “We just didn’t get it done tonight. Tip your cap to (Nogosek). “He was
able to find that strike when he needed it. And that’s a sign of a good pitcher. He
did a good job tonight.”
Tonight’s showing, combined with his dominating performances throughout the
tournament, surely bronzed Nogosek's legacy in high school playoff
First, there was last year's awesome game against Casa Roble in which Nogo allowed
one-hit and struck out 16. Then in the first game of this year's tournament against
Bella Vista he threw a three-hit shutout, striking out 10 batters. Against Rocklin
five days ago he tossed a two-hitter, striking out six. Then two hours later,
Valencia called in Nogosek to get the last out against Rocklin and he did by
Add tonight’s championship gem and you can bet they'll get started in the morning
on that plaster moulding for the kid's statue down at the Roseville
“Winning it all—the first time in eight years—with this group of guys, I couldn’t
ask for anything more,” Nogosek said in the post-celebration. “It felt
Of course, the pitcher had some help. Enormous help, including tremendous defensive
plays, especially in the infield. Mize, who is bound for Nevada next year, chipped
in with three hits, along with catcher George Corp, who caught
every inning of each game noted Nogosek. Hagarty and Blatnick had the big two-run
With Woodcreek taking home the DII hardware, the city of Roseville claims its
second straight champion. Last year, Roseville High defeated Rocklin in a thriller
to win its first section championship in 27 years. The Tigers were led by the
Blaser Brothers—Dalton and Nick—who were on the field celebrating this
evening with their cousin, Austin Blatnick.
Last year at this time, Valencia was coaching in Wheatland. He applied for the
Spanish teaching position at Woodcreek, which also was in need of a head varsity
coach since Kelly Mayo retired from the baseball field.
Valencia accepted the job.
Asked if he dreamed of winning a Division II championship in his first year,
Valencia released that familiar laid-back smile and offered, “No, I didn’t dream
it. But I knew I had a quality team, great kids and we set a goal to win it. And we
And he had the Big Horse to pull his team across the finish line.
Stephen Nogosek pitched a
two-hit, two-run game over Granite Bay to clinch the Division II
Sac-Joaquin Section Championship for Woodcreek High.
For story and pics, go to High School.
Woodcreek High Baseball
team celebrating after beating Granite Bay 9-2.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Blatnick.
D1 -- Section North
Championship Games at Sacramento City College
Davis 5, Franklin 3 (Game
Franklin 3, Davis 2 (Game Two)
After Losing Game One, Franklin Takes Championship
from Blue Devils
Wildcats To Play St. Mary's of Stockton in Three-Game
Series at UOP Next Weekend
Davis score four runs in the sixth inning and hold on to win Game One 5-3, Franklin High edged
the Causeway Comeback Kids in Game Two 3-2 to win its first ever Division I North Section
Championship at Sacramento City College.
contest was a nail biter from start to the finish.
As a consequence
of being the #3 seed from the Delta Valley Conference, Franklin was relegated to visiting team
in each of its six tournament games. Tonight, they scored a quick run in the top of the first,
as leadoff hitter Hank LoForte singled, advanced to
second on a passed ball and scored on Ryan
Sarginson’s RBI single.
Franklin had a
chance to get more, when Josh Pigg singled to right
field, advancing Sarginson to third base. Two batters later, Kyle Von Ruden flied out to left field and Sarginson tried to
score. But a great throw by Chris Gnos nailed the
runner at the plate for the third out of the inning.
In the Davis
second, the Blue Devils scored one run in similar fashion, as leadoff hitter Bobby Young singled, went to second on a beautiful bunt by
Ben Eckels, who was safe at first. Both runners
advanced when pitcher Brandon Keup threw the ball into center field on an
attempted pick off. A sacrifice fly by Hayden Duer
tied the score.
In the third,
Franklin answered as Tyler Blake singled in
Sarginson who got on with a walk, making it 2-1. In the top of the sixth, Franklin added one
more after Frei drove home Von Ruden with a singled, making it 3-1.
Davis came back
in the bottom of the inning when Gnos walked, went to third on Young’s single and scored on
Eckels’ sacrifice fly, making it a one run game, 3-2.
At that point,
Franklin coach Bryan Kilby relieved his senior starter Brandon
Keup, who'd pitched five strong innings, with Von Ruden, another senior who had a great
tourney. John Ariola walked, putting runners on the corners. With two outs and
two strikes on the batter, an attempted double-steal attempt saw shortstop LoForte cut off the
throw to second, wheel and fire to third to nab Young, who broke back for the bag instead of
running for home.
That was a huge
play and probably symbolic of how Davis’ magic was spent, and Franklin had plenty left in
Davis' Ben Eckels slides safely into third base under the tag of Ryan Sarginson of
Franklin, but was unable to score in the second inning of the second game. Davis
lost the night-cap 3-2.
Below, Sarginson scores in the third inning around Davis catcher Hayden Duer to
give Franklin a 2-1 lead.
In the first
game, Franklin capitalized on Davis pitcher Reinert
Toft’s three walks in the first inning and scored three runs. After that, Toft dominated the
Wildcats. Meantime, Davis couldn’t score off Franklin starter Pigg, who didn’t seem as sharp as
Tuesday, when he struck out seven Davis batters in three innings of relief.
The Blue Devils
chipped away and finally scored one run off Pigg in the fifth. Following that inning, Kilby replaced Pigg with their tall left-hander, Tyler Blake. After the game, Kilby said he pulled Pigg
because he had reached his pitch count for the week (135 in two games) and there was no question
about sending him out for the sixth inning. “He’s got a major league draft in two weeks,” Kilby
said of the athletic senior. “We’re not going to do that (overuse a pitcher) to a
for Franklin, Blake didn’t have his stuff this day.
the first batter, John Ariola, Davis punched five straight hits off Blake, scoring twice to tie
the game at three. Kilby brought in Connor Adams
with the bases loaded, and he promptly induced a 5-2-3 double play, setting off cheers on the
Franklin side. But Gnos smacked a two-run triple into left center field, giving Davis a 5-3
Catcher George Hatamiya came on in relief and closed the game for the Blue Devils
to force the second contest.
games, Kilby told his kids “We’ve got seven innings left. We’re two very evenly-matched teams.
Just relax and go have fun. And keep the game simple, And they did.”
true grit by coming back in both games. Coach Ariola said, “We’ve been coming back all year.
Scrappin’ and fightin’ and we did that again today.” Davis finished 2012 with a 25-8 record, one
of their best efforts since last winning the DI Section Championship in 2004 under Dan
“But you’ve got
to give Franklin credit,” Ariola said. “It’s really difficult to lose that first one (and win
the second game).”
It was the first
loss of the tournament for Franklin, which stormed back from an awful start to win 11 of 13 at
the end of the regular season. They entered the tournament by beating Vintage in the play-in
bracket game. Then they stunned Pleasant Grove 11-5 in the single-elimination round, came out
and whipped Elk Grove 9-1, and beat Davis earlier this week 8-6 in a game in which the Blue
Devils clung to a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning. With two outs and two strikes on Pigg, knocked
a base hit up the middle to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Franklin added two more
runs in the eighth inning and held on to remain in the winner’s bracket.
23-10, will head down to Pacific next Friday for a best-of-three series against defending
section champions, St. Mary’s of Stockton. Kilby has seen the Gales twice this season and he
acknowledged they’re tough once more.
“We’re going to
go down there and I can guarantee you we’re gonna compete. Our kids are competitive, they want
it, they’re hungry. We’ll see what happens, but (St. Mary’s) is a very good club.”
In the first game, Reinert Toft gave up
three runs in the first inning, but then settled down to pitch shutout ball for
five innings. Here he retires Franklin shortstop Hank LoForte on an infield
D1 -- Elimination Game at
Sacramento City College
Davis 2, Vacaville
Eckels Overcomes Elway Magic
Davis to D1 North Final
Davis’ Ben Eckels put the Blue Devils on his shoulders tonight and
delivered a win in a well pitched 97-minute ballgame. The senior pitcher allowed Vacaville four
hits and one run, and sent the Bulldogs home for the summer in a Division I North elimination
game at Sacramento City College.
delivered the big hit, a triple in the first inning, that drove home Davis’ second—and what
turned out to be—the winning run. The smash to right field was aided by strong winds that blew
the ball out of the reach of Vacaville’s sophomore right fielder, Cory McGuire.
out 11 Bulldogs, mostly with an overpowering fastball and sharp sliders. He rated it as one of
the top games in his Davis career. “I like competitive games better. If it’s tight—like this
one, 2-1—I seem to focus a lot better and stay on top of things.”
established a pattern of dominance early, striking out the side in the first and second innings.
The star pitcher was actually working on pitching inside with his fastball, to great success
tonight, “to get ready for the next level.” He allowed a run in the second after walking the
first batter, and threw away an attempted pick-off at first base, allowing the runner to advance
to second. An RBI single by Blake Hannah drove in
Vacaville’s only run.
innings Eckels had nine strikeouts with his team leading 2-1.
Davis' Joe Murray slides ahead of the throw
at second base, where it bounced past Vacaville shortstop Anthony Gonsolin in first
inning action. Murray would soon score on a triple by Ben Eckels.
those two runs in the first, Vacaville’s pitcher Elway
Santistevan settled down and dispatched the minimum number of batters through the sixth
inning. He was assisted by a great running catch in the fourth inning by the Bulldog’s center
fielder Jordan Tolbert, who raced to the warning
track in left center field to snag a 400-foot fly by Eckels.
After the game,
Davis head coach Dan Ariola praised Vacaville
pitcher Santistevan, who gave up Eckel’s triple and a single in the sixth that was erased by an
inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. “Their guy Elway is real tough,” Ariola said of the 5’6” junior
named for Stanford quarterback, John Elway. “He’s real competitive and shut us down.”
a pair of hits—the only player on either side with more than one--including a single in the
sixth when he was thrown out stealing by Davis catcher George Hatamiya to end the
Vacaville pitcher Elway Santistevan pitched
and played with heart and grit, but his team lost to Davis 2-1.
Asked to rate
Eckels’ performance tonight, Ariola said “He’s had a lot of games for us like that over his
career,” and proceeded to tick off a number of them.
meanwhile, has committed to Howard College, a JC in Texas, but will await the MLB draft outcome
with great interest. He’s hoping the Blue Devils can find a way to win two games tomorrow
against the Wildcats, giving him one last opportunity to shine for Davis on the mound as he’s
done throughout his terrific career (see chart below).
As the Vacaville
players were preparing to board the bus for their return trip, Santistevan was the last player
to get up. His Ultimate
Warrior face paint smeared by tear-stained cheeks, Santistevan was still
emotionally choked up, and upset that he couldn’t do more to help his team. Reminded that he
just pitched a two-hitter and generated half of his team’s hits, he berated himself for walking
the first two Davis batters in the first inning, who both went on to score. Santistevan is a
junior and will be back next year.
returns to Union Stadium tomorrow afternoon for what they hope will be two games against
Franklin (22-9). The winner will head to Stockton next weekend to play the Sac-Joaquin Division
I South representative St. Mary’s—the two-time Division I champion.
Ben Eckels' 3-Year Varsity
Career at Davis High
Davis pitcher Ben Eckels mixed a combination
of 90+ mph fastballs and sharp-breaking sliders at the Vacaville Bulldogs. He held
them to four hits, one run, and struck out 11. Davis won 2-1 and meets Franklin
tomorrow afternoon in the DI Section North Final.
Semi-Final at American River College
Rocklin 3 (Second Game)
Rocklin 0 (First Game)
Ride 'Nogo' the Big Horse
to the Championship Game
In the bottom of
the seventh inning with Woodcreek leading 4-3, Rocklin had two runners on and was threatening to
send the Roseville boys home for the summer. Woodcreek coach Eric Valencia
could hear his rightfielder Stephen Nogosek yelling for a chance to close the
had thrown a two-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory to stave off elimination. But Valencia didn’t want
to heat up his ace again after a long layoff between games. But “Nogo” wouldn’t let
Coming in to the
seventh, senior pitcher Brandon Raposa was cruising. But Austin
Spainhour rapped a leadoff single. Raposa managed to get two outs. But he hit the next
batter and then walked the second hitter of the inning.
Valencia knew his
senior was battling an injury from the third inning, when Evan Durgarian lined
a ball off Raposa’s foot that ricocheted to second baseman Bobby Pajer, who
threw in time to get Durgarian. Raposa lingered on the ground for awhile before getting up. When
he returned in the fourth inning he looked and pitched fine, retiring the side in the next three
innings, with the benefit of a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play in the sixth.
cries from the right-field frontier, Valencia brought in Austin Blatnick from
center to relieve. He gave up Faulkner’s 2-RBI single. Then Woodcreek’s first-year coach
listened to reason and heeded the cry from the wilderness. If he wanted to advance, he needed to
ride "Nogo," the Big Horse.
signal, Nogosek raced in close the game. And promptly threw three straight pitches outside the
strike zone to Rocklin’s Taylor Reidt, who was 2x4 with a double and an RBI.
The junior fireballer told himself to calm down and just let the batter put the ball in play. He
got strike one. Then Reidt fouled a pitch to run the count full.
himself, “Alright, 3-2, I’m going to just throw it as hard as I can; I’ve got an open base and
see what happens.”
He threw a blazing
fastball across the letters that sounded like a Minuteman rocket to Reidt, who swung and missed.
Strike three. Game over.
Pitcher Stephen Nogosek fist bumps catcher
George Corp in the first contest between Rocklin and Woodcreek. Nogosek threw a
two-hit shutout and Woodcreek prevailed 5-0.
afterward that Nogosek had bugged him all game to let him pitch the seventh inning, if needed.
“I did not want to bring him in at all costs. But he wanted the ball, the whole time.” Because
Nogosek had thrown an economical 85-pitch game in the first contest Valencia felt he could ride
his stallion for one more out.
And in the
process, he enabled Nogosek to etch his name in local legend as the stud pitcher who saved the
semi-final game after earning a full-game victory earlier in the day.
Timberwolves' opening game of the tournament, Nogosek fired a three-hit shutout, posting 10
strike outs against a top Bella Vista club.
In this Division
II tournament, he's pitched 14.1 innings, given up a scant five hits and no runs, while striking
out 17 batters. Those performances lowered his season ERA to 0.92 and most importantly improved
his record to 7-0-1.
Valencia may not
have needed to bring in “Nogo” if junior Alex Montes had read his third base
coach’s signals correctly.
In the top of the
third, Woodcreek loaded the bases with Montes on first. George Corp cracked a
ball in the right center gap. The first two runners scored easily and Valencia—from the third
base coaching box—could see Montes had a great chance to score. Windmilling his runner around,
Valencia suddenly put up the stop sign, and Montes complied, stopping at third. Unfortunately,
that sign was for Corp, the hitter, to stop at second. Rocklin retired the next two batters, and
Montes' potential run could have been costly, especially as Rocklin had the winning run on base
in the seventh.
Rocklin made four errors in the early
contest against Woodcreek, but they did make a nice play above, as shortstop Stevin
Cisneros flips the ball to second baseman Sam Curtis to get the force out at
Murray—the dean of high school coaches with his cool and collected manner and wise-old-veteran
gray hair—applauded Nogosek’s performance in the first game. “He did such a great job in the
first game. He made it impossible for us to do anything.” Rocklin facilitated with an
uncharacteristic 4-error performance. Earlier in the tournament, Rocklin had defeated Woodcreek
9-0 in their first meeting.
“I thought Raposa
did a great job as well (in the second game),” Murray added. “Woodcreek’s a very good team, they
play together and they’re well coached.”
praised his Thunder (18-12) for mounting a last-inning rally that fell short, and went home for
the second consecutive season without the Section DII trophy, after winning it three of four
(23-7) will now challenge conference rival Granite Bay, the Sierra Foothill League’s top seed,
in the DII championship game on Monday at Sacramento City College.
Any guesses who
Valencia will throw?
Take it to the
bank, it’s that guy yellin’ for the ball, Stephen Nogosek.
Pitcher Stephen Nogosek this afternoon threw
a two-hit shutout
against Rocklin as Woodcreek won the first game 5-0 at American River
While touring the grounds at Sac City before yesterday's DI game Davis vs.
Franklin, we saw the progress on the Hughes Stadium renovation, which includes new
turf field and structural improvements to the 85-year-old facility. Unfortunately,
while strolling the north side, we saw where the Grand Dame's landmark facade is
undergoing a facelift on the original name and date it opened.
Here's hoping they can restore it to its original appearance.
High School Action--Post Game Notes
Franklin Pitchers Take a Pole
After each game,
is you stick around you’ll see some Franklin players running “pole to pole” as part of a
conditioning program developed by Bryan Kilby’s kid brother,
Brad, who was a standout at Laguna Creek and is currently on hiatus as an A’s farmhand due to a
lingering injury. Asked if the unusual post-game running—especially for the pitchers who just
came off the mound—is something he learned with Oakland, Brad Kilby offers this story. “No, we
(A’s) usually run before games.”
Franklin's post-game game running resulted from a compromise agreement the Kilby brothers struck
with their pitching staff following a 10-walk game to Elk Grove which resulted in a loss. To give
the pitchers proper motivation to throw strikes, they agreed that for every walk over three in a
game the pitching staff allowed they would run one “pole” or from the left field foul poll to the
right field poll. “Just something for the kids to work on, keeps them in shape, and lets them run
out a little energy after the game,” the pitching coach explains.
The 6'7" left-hander Tyler Blake admitted that it is mentally draining to run the poles following a
game, "but like anything else, you feel great when it's done."
Seems to be working. Since their rocky start in the regular season, they ripped off 11 wins in 13
games, beginning with their first defeat of Davis to through the play-in game against Vintage,
which got them in the DI playoffs. Including that win, they've ripped off five straight playoff
victories, and are sitting in the proverbial "cat bird seat" as the old Dodgers announcer Red
Barber liked to say. One more win on Friday in the unofficial "city championship" game and they
will advance to the championship series against the DI Section South representative.
Bryan Kilby graduated from Laguna Creek in 1999 and Brad followed in 2001 after making All-Metro
for the Cardinals. Brad was drafted in 2005 out of San Jose State in the 29th round by Oakland, and
made his major league debut with the A's in a September call-up in 2009. He also pitched for
Oakland in 2010. Last year, he spent most of the season on injured reserve with the River
High School Playoff Action
Division 1 North Winner's Bracket Game at Sacramento City College
Trailing by one
run in the seventh inning and down to its last strike, Franklin High continued it’s improbable
Cinderfella story by knotting the score at six on a Josh
Pigg RBI single, and then wresting the lead from Davis in the eighth inning on a Taylor Waters RBI single in a thrilling Sac-Joaquin Division
I North contest at Sacramento City.
Leading 8-6 in
the bottom of the eighth, coach Bryan Kilby sent
Pigg out for his third inning of relief, and the lanky 6’2” pitcher struck out the side to seal
the victory for Franklin, which has yet to lose in the tournament.
contest featured two Delta Valley Conference rivals in the winner’s bracket—Davis the league
co-champion and Franklin the number-three seed, which needed to win a play-in bracket game just
to get to the ball. During the regular season, Franklin took two of three from Davis while
steaming toward the playoffs.
As the game
began under the lights at Union Stadium Franklin came out swinging, scoring four runs in the
first off Davis senior pitcher Jack Shelledy. As
would be their weakness tonight, Davis walked the first batter of the inning—freshman Hank LoForte--and he went on to score on Pigg’s infield
grounder, which was misplayed by shortstop Ryan
Plumb. Tyler Blake’s infield groundout sent
Franklin up 2-0. With Pigg and Franklin pitcher Kyle Von
Ruden on base, Josh Adams capitalized on a
dropped fly in foul territory by first baseman John
Ariola (the Blue Devils second error of the inning) and he smacked a 2-run double to put the
Wildcats ahead 4-0.
Davis junior Joe Murray is safe on this infield hit in the first
to start a four-run Blue Devils' rally which eventually tied the Franklin Wildcats
Davis answered in their half of
the inning by loading the bases on a pair of singles and an error by Franklin second baseman
Andrew McBride, who dropped a potential double-play
throw near the bag. Ben Eckels made them pay with a
3-run triple. He quickly scored on Ariola’s fielder’s choice, and the game was tied
In the top of
the second, another Davis error resulted in a Franklin run when LoForte reached on a fielder’s
choice and stole second. While attempting to steal third Shelledy stepped off the rubber and
threw to third base, but Bobby Young missed the
throw and LoForte scampered home, giving Franklin the 5-4 lead.
Davis tied it in
the fourth 5-5 on an Ariola RBI double, driving in Eckels who started the inning off with his
second hit of the game.
In the bottom of
the sixth, Davis appeared to have seized the momentum when Young led off with a sharp single up
the middle and advanced to second on an error by the center fielder. Ariola knocked in Young to
take the lead 6-5.
starter Von Ruden, who had given up seven hits while striking out nine, with Pigg. The
right-hander struck out the side with a combination of low-nineties gas and curves, quelling any
further damage. Then he went out and collected an RBI single with the pressure on.
have to come through in clutch time, and that’s what I did,” the confident senior after the
In the eighth,
Davis coach Dan Ariola moved George Hatimiya from catcher to pitcher. He walked
the first batter, and the old axiom about leadoff walks usually scoring proved true. Hatamiya
then hit the next batter, and a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position for
Waters, who in his first official at-bat of the game drilled a single to put Franklin up 7-6.
They tacked on one more run to lead 8-6.
Pigg went back out and shut the door on Davis by striking out the side, including fanning
hot-hitting Eckels on a 3-2 curve ball. Pigg clearly was on his pitching game tonight and admitted
this was his best performance of the season, striking out seven of the 11 batters he faced while
improving his record to 4-1-1.
Kyle Von Ruden slides safe at home on this wild pitch to add an insurance run in
the eighth inning. Davis pitcher George
Hatamiya (#11) and Franklin batter Hank LoForte look on.
Photo courtesy of Tom Paniagua,
In addition to
Pigg’s two RBIs, Franklin teammate Ryan Sarginson
went 2x5 with a double. “They’re
relaxed. They’re seeing the ball well," Bryan Kilby said after the game. "Good things are
happening for us.”
Eckels went 2x3 with a triple and 3 RBI, and Ariola had a 2x3 night with a double and 3 RBI in
the losing effort.
credited his kids tonight with never losing faith and believing in one another right to the
final pitch, despite a great comeback by the Blue Devils (23-7). "These guys (his Wildcats) deal with adversity
real well and they are a very tight group of kids. They seem to come through when it
Vacaville tomorrow night in the elimination game and the winner of that game will face a rested
Franklin team (22-9) with Josh Pigg possibly starting on the mound. He will be if he has
anything to say about it.
Franklin's Josh Pigg generated an RBI on this pitch, the first of four runs
the Wildcats would score in the first inning. Story and photos in High School.
Below, Davis' Chris Gnos (#10) is safe at second after Andrew
McBride dropped this potential double-play throw at second base. The error allowed
Ben Eckels to bat, and he hit a bases-clearing triple to put Davis back in the game
after Franklin stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Franklin did win 8-6
in a thrilling eighth inning comeback.
High School Playoff Action
Division 1 North Playoffs at Sacramento City College
Vacaville 7, Elk Grove
(Story by Rick
Sounds like a
Valley law firm. Or a medical device supplier out of Davis.
Vacaville’s Dynamic Duo, who eliminated Elk Grove 7-3 from the Sac-Joaquin Division I North
baseball playoffs tonight at Sacramento City College.
Anthony Gonsolin, the tall one (6’2”), pitched a seven-inning
gem, allowing just three hits and five walks, while striking out six batters. He also went 3x4
at the plate with two doubles and an RBI.
Elway Santistevan, the short one (5’6”), had a big night at the
plate, going 3x3 with four RBI. His two-run homer off of junior David Smith in the top of the sixth gave the Bulldogs a
four-run cushion and erased any hope of the Thundering Herd winning another Section title this
The Vacaville Bulldogs pour out of the
dugout to celebrate after Elway Santisteven hit a 2-run homer in the sixth inning
to secure the 7-3 victory over Elk Grove. That's Anthony Gonsolin (#15) giving
Elway the low five after scoring ahead of him. Gonsolin pitched a three-hitter to
keep Vacaville's hopes alive.
Photo courtesy of John Moist.
Smith had just
come off a combination no-hitter in Elk Grove’s first playoff match.
For the Herd the
lone bright spot was Rowdy Tellez’ booming home run
over the right field wall in the first inning, estimated at 420 feet. Vacaville coach Abe Hobbs wisely walked Tellez intentionally in his last two
Losing 3-1 in
the bottom of the third, Elk Grove battled and added two more runs on a pair of hits, a walk and
two Vacaville errors. But that was all the offense Jeff Carlson’s club could muster against
After the game,
Carlson complimented his guys, acknowledged injuries left them shorthanded and said, “You gotta
battle through it, bounce back and learn from it.” He appreciated the team’s fight to the
that we’ve got a lot of them coming back. It’s gonna be a great season next year,” he
11 juniors returning, including two of the area’s top players in Dom Nunez—the
do-everything versatile player—and slugger Tellez (the just-announced
Player of the Year by BaseballSacramento.com). Plus, he has starting freshman infielder Nick
Madrigal, who last summer played on the USA 14U team (Nunez played on the USA 16U team).
Vacaville, they were relieved and proud to have dethroned Elk Grove, a long-time Northern
California power. For Elway—who was named after the Stanford/Denver quarterback--the home run
was his first of the year. “Glad it came in a playoff game. Good time to come, but it’s in the
past now,” he said looking forward to Vacaville’s next game.
Asked to rate
Santistevan’s contribution Coach Hobbs rolled his eyes in amazement at the pint-sized savvy
player. He also praised his pitcher Gonsolin, who gave a typically aggressive performance
tonight, he said, against a solid-hitting Elk Grove lineup. Gonsolin normally plays shortstop
for the Bulldogs.
continue to fight through the loser’s bracket and take on the Davis-Franklin loser on Thursday
night at Sacramento City.
Grant Heisinger of Bradshaw Christian finished the regular season
with a .600 batting average and led all area hitters. Say what you will about the D6 competition
level, but it's hard to hit six-hundred in a Sunday slow-pitch softball league.
In his first two Pride playoff games, Heisinger has gone 4x8 and watched his average dropped 10
points to .590! Most kids would take that anyday. In his second game against Ripon Christian, Grant
went 3x4 with three RBI and was just a single away from hitting for the cycle. Not bad, kid.
Grant is the younger brother of Garrett Heisinger, who yesterday celebrated with a
dogpile in Bakersfield, as his Cosumnes River Hawks swept through the state finals, winning the
championship game 8-6 in 12 innings. Garrett had an RBI single and played a solid first base.
Not much sleep for the Heisinger family these days, but it sure feels good.