rojan pinch runner Andrew Romero is tagged out at the plate in Thursday's CIF Sac-Joaquin section loss to Davis last Thursday. Village Life photo by Mark Studyvin

Sports

Playoffs: Oak Ridge baseball disappointed again

By From page A11 | May 31, 2017

SACRAMENTO — The Oak Ridge seniors made their graduation last Friday, albeit reluctantly, as less than 24 hours earlier the Trojans saw their season end a win short of reaching the CIF Division I finals in a 1-0 loss to Davis at Union Stadium on the campus of Sac City College.

Had Oak Ridge won, it had to return for possibly two games against Elk Grove, likely conflicting with the graduation ceremony … now a moot point.

Davis literally cut the Trojans’ season short as it cut down the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve the lead. All game, Oak Ridge was close to breaking through in a game featuring several twists and turns.

The loss spoiled a stellar outing for Oak Ridge starting pitcher Trenton Denholm who went seven, allowed two hits and struck out 10, including the first three Blue Devils to open the game.

“Trenton pitched his heart out,” Trojan coach Todd Melton said. “He’s been the heart of this team for the last three years and everyone knows he’s the best player in the area.”

Melton pulled the right strings in an effort to stay alive. Against Davis reliever Tyler Gibson, in after Blue Devil starter Ryan Holgate was ejected, both left handed Trojan pinch-hitters Brandon Cantaloube and Hayden Nabers produced singles around Brady Rodriguez’ sacrifice bunt.

Davis produced the play of the game when Jack Painter fielded Nabers’ slicing single and threw a pin-point throw to nail the Trojans’ pinch runner at the plate — stunning those out to support the Blue and Gold. Oak Ridge was still in capable hands with Denholm at the plate, even down in the count, but Gibson snared his bouncer up the middle and threw to first to end the game.

That and other plays illustrated just how unlucky Oak Ridge was Thursday. In the sixth, Tyler led off with a bunt single and Patrick Smith walked before both advanced on a run-and-bunt play executed by Zach Reyes.

Next up, Mitch Alhady hit a rocket toward center that Holgate snagged to catch Tyler in a rundown between third base and home. Davis botched the pickle as Tyler made it back to third where Smith stood, forcing Tyler to make a return dash to home as the ball squirted to the side.

The Blue Devils didn’t miss this one, getting Tyler at the plate but after-the-play excessive behavior got Holgate tossed.

“Really, a couple inches left or right and that’s through,” Melton said. “We had runners in scoring position but just couldn’t deliver.”

Oak Ridge stranded Zach at third in the second inning and Rodriguez and Rhys Kennedy at second and third after both had walked to open the third.

Thursday’s difference came after Troy gave Davis 90 extra feet on the base paths. In Oak Ridge’s zest to make a play, a throw down on a 3-2 pitch to anticipate the strike-em-out, throw-em-out got into centerfield to put the Blue Devil runner at third where he scored on another play the Trojans had, but couldn’t make at the plate. On the very next pitch, Davis grounded into a double play.

Denholm, expected to go high in next week’s MLB draft, faced his own one-out, second and third scenario in the top of the seventh but fanned the next two keep it a 1-run deficit.

“I didn’t feel too much pressure in that situation,” said Denholm who was able to locate his fastball inside, outside and throw his offspeed for strikes. “You can’t point any fingers, their guy made a great throw … we had our chances.”

Oak Ridge ends with a 21-10 record, 15-3 in the Sierra Foothill League which was good for the league title.

“I’m proud of the guys … half way through we were a mess after the Granite Bay series but from that point they came togethr and that was pretty cool.”

Jerry Heinzer

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