In its five years with a senior class, Vista del Lago has accomplished a lot. One thing it hadn't done was reach a Sac-Joaquin Section baseball final. That changed on Wednesday night when senior Andrew Schantz threw a complete game and hit a two run homer for a 2-0 win over Sierra.
After dropping game two of the semi-finals 6-1, Vista del Lago came back to beat Sierra 2-0 to earn a championship date with Manteca on Monday. The Eagles were eliminated by Oakdale each of the past two years, but beat the Mustangs 7-6 in single elimination play before defeating the Timberwolves in a best of three series. The 26th win set a school record for wins.
"Usually when we get to game three, we always have Oakdale's ace," Vista del Lago head coach Scott Seffens said. "I think the fact we beat Oakdale was huge in the first round. They beat us in football twice and we have a lot of football guys. To win on Saturday (Game 1) was also huge. We've never had a win in the first one. Those guys (Sierra) are really good, especially offensively.
In the middle of a historic night for the program was Schantz, a senior who would be a force at the JUCO level. With two outs in the fourth inning, Schantz took the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to stake himself to a 2-0 lead. Like any good starter, Schantz threw up zeroes after the big inning, including setting down 10 Sierra hitters in a row at one point. The right-hander finished with a three hitter and nine strikeouts. He controlled multiple pitches, including a good curveball that was an out pitch.
"It was really working. We were in the bullpen and even coach and I were saying its dirty today," Schantz said of his curveball. "It feels awesome. There is no better feeling in the world. I couldn't be happier about my team.
Prior to Schantz's performance, Sierra forced the decisive third game with a 6-1 win. Junior Leo Soto picked up his ninth win with a 72 pitch complete game. The Timberwovles scored two runs in the first inning and added four runs in the third highlighted by a two RBI single form Kyle Oden. Catcher Jake Pruitt had two hits with a first inning double.
The winner of Vista del Lago and Manteca will likely finish at the top ranked Division IV team in the final NCP rankings.
Theron Kay (Baylor) and Hunter Parkinson (San Diego) matched up in a pitchers' duel to start the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs though neither factored in the decision. Kay went nine innings of five-hit ball and seven strikeouts. Parkinson struck out 10 batters in seven innings of work. Kyle Marinconz had the game winning hit to drive in Bryson Brigman. Valley Christian will take on Scotts Valley, which upset Los Gatos, on Saturday.
San Benito continued its playoff success with a 4-3 win over Serra in 10 innings. Zackry Moeller had a walk-off home run and Hunter Haworth threw six innings of relief for the win. Serra right-hander Matt Blais threw seven innings in getting a no-decision. Next up for San Benito is Mitty, which beat Terra Nova in the first round.
It came a year too late, but Casa Grande beat Campolindo (1-0) in the North Coast Section Division II playoffs. This season's version was a 1 vs. 16 and sees an end to the Cougars' four straight section title run. Chris Joaquin went 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Gauchos, which were section runner-ups in 2013. Both top seeds in the Division II and III playoffs have been eliminated.
Acalanes beat Del Norte (6-1) and Drake beat El Cerrito (6-4) to set up a very good Saturday night matchup. The Dons and Pirates are the top two teams in the bracket, but will face off in the quarterfinals. Drake ace Joe Ryan threw 2.1 perfect innings of relief, but could be in line to start.
Tokay hasn't won at least 20 games since 2008, but it is one win away from the SJS Division I South title after beating pre-tournament favorite Turlock (2-1). Turlock will face St. Mary's-Stockton with the winner needing two wins over Tokay on Friday.