Around the diamond: A look at how the prep baseball playoff races are shaping up
April 19, 2014
With the spring tournaments in the books and just three weeks left in the league season for local prep baseball teams, we take a look at how Nevada Union, Bear River and Forest Lake Christian are progressing as the playoffs near.
Nevada Union (5-11, 1-5 Sierra Foothill League)
After opening the season with a 4-1 record in non-league action, the Miners have struggled through the first part of their SFL schedule going 1-5 against Rocklin and Granite Bay. Nevada Union's only win came against the Grizzlies, 5-1, April 8.
NU got a break from the vicious gauntlet that is the SFL during spring break, but took a beating at the Lions Tournament in San Diego, losing their first three contests by a combined score of 34-10.
With three weeks and nine games left on their league schedule, the Miners need to snap out of their losing ways if they hope to grab the third and final playoff slot allotted to the SFL.
It's not as if the Miners are getting blown out by their league foes, having lost two games in extra innings and they have been competitive in all but one league contest. They have shown they can score, plating 17 runs in a loss to Granite Bay, and on the season they average 4.7 runs per game.
At the plate, NU is led by Brock Grininger, who is batting .432 with a team-leading 17 RBIs and has NU's only home run. Noah Arriaga is batting .400 and is second on the team with nine RBIs. After Arriaga and Grininger, there is a steep drop off in production though as Joey Souza is the only other Miner batting over .300.
Defensively, they play well in the field and have solid starting pitching, but lack a dynamic closer and that has hurt them this season.
While NU anchors the SFL with just one league win, Rocklin sits atop the SFL with a 5-1 league record followed by Del Oro (11-7, 4-2 SFL), Woodcreek (12-5, 3-3 SFL), Granite Bay (9-8, 3-3 SFL) and Roseville (6-12, 2-4 SFL).
NU resumes league play Tuesday with the first of three games against Del Oro.
Bear River (10-9, 6-5 Pioneer Valley League)
The Bruins have just four league games left and are in the thick of a tight battle for the final playoff spot in the competitive PVL.
The Bruins currently sit in third, and if they remain there they will be heading to playoffs for the first time since 2011. But, the remainder of the season pits Bear River against league leading Colfax (15-4, 10-1) twice and another two against a Center team that has already beat them once.
The first time Center (8-9, 4-7 PVL) and Bear River met up, the Cougars took the game, 7-1. In their only game with Colfax this year, the Bruins lost, 9-6.
Bear River holds a slight edge over Placer (8-11, 5-6 PVL) for the last playoff spot, but did lose the season series to the Hillmen.
The Hillmen have an easier path for the remainder of the season, facing a miserable Foothill team, that has just one win all season and is 0-11 in league play, twice and a pair against second-place Lincoln (9-10-1, 8-3 PVL).
The Bruins boast a good lineup that has produced 6.1 runs per game and has a .306 team batting average. They are led by sophomore Bear Belding with a .341 batting average and 12 RBIs. Senior David Chorjel also has 12 RBIs and brings a big bat to the middle of the order. Second baseman Tyler Toft leads the team with a .400 batting average, and seniors Jake Sypnicki and Michael Scudero have batting averages above .350.
The Bruins get back at it Wednesday against Colfax.
Forest Lake Christian (9-7, 4-1 Central Valley California League)
The Falcons are yet to put their best nine on the field at the same time, said head coach Jess Soria. But in the back half of the season he expects that to happen and for the Falcons to make a strong push toward the playoffs.
Forest Lake Christian is off to a 4-1 start in league play with their lone loss coming to Foresthill.
The Wildfires are 4-1 in league play as well, and both teams trail Woodland Christian (11-6, 6-0 CVCL) for the league lead.
The Falcons face Woodland Christian twice before the season concludes.
FLC has a pair of strong pitchers in junior Kyle Soria and sophomore Hayden Piner. Kyle Soria has an impressive fastball and has plenty of experience, having been a key member of the varsity team since he was a freshman. Piner mixes his pitches well and found success in this his sophomore season.
From the plate, Kyle Soria leads the team with a .615 batting average to go with a team-high six doubles. FLC also gets quality at-bats from Jacob Yarborough (.435), Brett Soria (.318) and Chase Augustino (.312).
The Falcons get back to work Tuesday against Sac Waldorf, who are winless in league play.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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