SACRAMENTO — A landmark varsity baseball season for Oak Ridge that saw a 12 game winning streak bring a Delta River League championship to El Dorado Hills came to an end Wednesday night as the Trojans fell to the Franklin Wildcats 4-1 at Sacramento City College.
“Gotta tip your hat to (Franklin); they played well,” Coach Todd Melton said. “Just seems like we hit some balls that went right at ‘em. Shoot, man. They brought their A-game today.”
The Trojans sent out ace Austin Root to the mound to face the Wildcats in the top of the first. Root allowed a double to Hank LoForte, but in the next at bat Root picked LoForte off, and then proceeded to strike out Gabe Abelia swinging. Tyler Blake singled, but Root struck out Kyle Zanzi to end the inning.
Alec de Watteville led off the bottom of the first for the Trojans, and walloped a double off the first pitch from Connor Adams to left-center field. Mickey Meinhofer’s bloop single advanced de Watteville to third base, and he came home when Tanner Ales grounded into a double play, giving the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
Root struck out the first Franklin batter in the second, but Sean Nicholson singled the next at-bat. Peyton Simmons drooped in a single, and Nicholson came home when third baseman Logan Denholm’s attempt to catch Simmons sleeping at first sailed, tying the score and advancing Simmons to second base. Root came back to strike out Nick Frei for his fourth of a total of seven strikeouts on the night, but Simmons scored on another Oak Ridge error off a grounder as the Wildcats led 2-1. Oak Ridge went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second, grounding out all three at-bats.
Neither team made much noise in the third inning, and Oak Ridge remained dormant in the fourth after allowing a run on a Damien Chavez grounder. In the top of the fifth, Blake absolutely crushed a ball to right field for a no-doubt home run, and the Wildcats held a 4-1 lead. Oak Ridge went 1-2-3 again in the fifth, and after de Watteville doubled with one out in the sixth, couldn’t bring him across.
In the seventh, the Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs, looking to add extra cushion to their lead. But the Trojans got out of it with an extraordinary play as Root induced a ground ball back to the mound, fielded it and threw to catcher Logan Marston for the force out at home. Marston threw to first baseman Ross Dwelley for a double play, but Dwelley spotted Blake sprinting home, and threw a dart to Marston, who tagged out Blake at home for the 1-2-3-2 triple play.
In the bottom of the seventh, Oak Ridge’s first two batters were retired, but Denholm and Jack Rico each singled to bring the tying run to the plate in F.P Santangelo. Santangelo battled off a few pitches but ultimately succumbed and poked a fly ball that the Franklin right-fielder caught to end the game.
Oak Ridge ends the season with a 19-9 (12-3 league) record and as the champions of the DRL. The Trojans lose senior leaders such as de Watteville, Dwelley, Rico, Marston, and others, but bring back plenty of talent including Root, Denholm, and Meinhofer.
“We’re really proud of them. We were 7-8 at one point. I know it’s hard to grasp it right now, but once we reflect on it, what we accomplished in winning league is great. Our seniors did a phenomenal job in mentoring the young guys this year, and we have a lot of talent coming back. We had a great year,” Melton said.