Bells back in WCAL finals
The West Catholic Athletic League is never short of excitement. In the span of one inning, Bellarmine went from up 6-2 to down 8-6 before beating Valley Christian-San Jose 10-8 to reach the finals. The Bells will try to win their second straight playoff title on Thursday.
"What an unbelievable high school baseball that was," Bellarmine head coach Mike Rodriguez. "It showed a lot of depth by both teams to just continue playing, but it was a great game."
The game turned into the bottom of the sixth with Bellarmine leading 6-2. Valley Christian loaded the bases with senior Bryson Brigman coming up. He hit a groundball to shortstop Scotty Jarvis, but the ball was fumbled and stopped a chance at an inning ending double play. Following a second Bellarmine error, the Warriors notched three straight hits, including a two RBI double from senior Theron Kay for an 8-6 lead off sophomore Sid Iyer.
It didn't take long for Bellarmine to respond in the seventh. Four of the first five hitters reached and senior second baseman Matt Ross tied the game at eight with a two RBI single. Senior Joey Pecoraro came up as a pinch hitter and hit the first pitch he saw for the game winning two RBI single against senior Chris Manderson. Valley Christian had runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom half of the inning, but didn't have a last rally.
"I couldn't be any prouder of our guys the way they responded. The mood was pretty good. We stayed real positive," Rodriguez said of his time. "The guys really believe we can compete at this tournament."
After a scoreless first three innings, Bellarmine grabbed a 2-0 lead. Valley Christian added a run in the fourth, but the Bells went up 5-1 in the fifth and 6-2 in the sixth. Starters Ben Hughes (Valley Christian) and Conor Ridley (Bellarmine) had no decisions.
"All year we've been preaching execution and guys really executed today. They went up with a plan and executed that plan," Rodriguez said of the early success.
Bellarmine will take on St. Francis-Mountain View after it beat Sacred Heart Cathedral (10-0). The Lancers last won the WCAL playoffs in 2011.
He doesn't get talked about for top pitchers in Northern California, but Rocklin's Logan Webb is working himself into that conversation. The senior struck out 11 batters as part of the Thunder's 7-6 win over Oak Ridge. Kyle Schafer had the game winning hit. Getting into the mid-90s earlier this month, Webb helped Rocklin become the lone Sierra Foothill League team to reach the first weekend of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
Jake Corn and Manteca got off to a strong start in the SJS Division IV playoffs. The Oregon bound left-hander tosses a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in a win over El Dorado (6-0). The 13 strikeouts is a season high for Corn, who improved to 7-2 and improved on his sub-1.00 ERA. Next up is Cosumnes Oaks in a best of three series. Cosumnes Oaks won two out of three games against Vista del Lago to end the regular season.