PREP BASEBALL: Rivals Bear River, Colfax to face off in D-V playoffs | TheUnion.com

PREP BASEBALL: Rivals Bear River, Colfax to face off in D-V playoffs

The first time the two rivals met up this season, it was Colfax scoring a pair of late runs to steal victory over Bear River, 6-5.

In the second meeting, Colfax's four-run fourth inning was the difference as the Falcons topped the Bruins 5-3.

The third time around, the Bruins exacted a bit of revenge with a come-from behind 7-5 victory over Colfax on the Falcons' home diamond.

Now, the two longtime rivals will face off for the fourth time this season with a trip to Sac-Joaquin Section Division V baseball semifinals.

"It's going to be a competitive one," Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten said. "I totally respect Colfax. They got a great program over there. It should be a dogfight till the end."

The No. 2 seed Bruins (14-14) and No. 3 Falcons (16-9) both advanced through the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs with wins Thursday, and will now meet each other at 3 p.m. today at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi for the first game of a four-team double-elimination tourney to decide the D-V champion.

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Bear River and Colfax come into the matchup with similar resumes. Both tied for second place in the Pioneer Valley League with 8-7 records in league play. Both squads have team batting averages above .300 and both teams average more than six runs per game.

Across their three matchups, the Falcons have notched 33 hits and scored 16 runs, and the Bruins have tallied 33 hits and plated 15 runs.

"It's like baseball should be," Van Patten said. "When you're at this stage it should be close and it will probably be the (team) that minimizes the mistakes that will come out on top."

AT THE PLATE

The Bruins are a strong offensive squad which boasts a team batting average above .330 and scores 7.1 runs per game on average. For the season, the Bruins have seven players who are batting .300 or better. Leading Bear River's potent lineup is senior catcher Jake Rogers (.455), senior infielder Justin Kilgore (.398), junior infielder Nathan Van Patten (.384), senior outfielder Jake Leonard (.368), sophomore outfielder Cole Winters (.329), senior first baseman Scottie Sandstedt (.314) and senior pitcher Clay Corippo (.307).

The Bruins have plenty of pop as well, notching 62 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs as a team this season. Rogers leads the team in both doubles (16) and home runs (4).

Colfax comes into the contest with a team batting average of .301 and scoring 6.4 runs per game on average. The Falcons offense is led by senior Dakota Redfern (.451), John Louis Pantlick (.441), Gaige Spencer (.357) and Colton Reeves (.314).

FROM THE BUMP

Bear River heads into the next stage of the playoffs with no restrictions on its pitching staff after some savvy moves in its opening round win. Because both Clay Corippo and Aaron Sasville stayed under 50 pitches in the Bruins' win over Western Sierra, they are both available for today's game.

"We're going to go into Saturday with a full boat," Eric Van Patten, said after Thursday's win.

Colfax has a strong and deep pitching staff, but Redfern, the Falcons' ace, will not be able to pitch after going 5.2 innings in Thursday's opening round win over San Juan.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

For the Bruins, this is the team's second foray into the second round of the playoffs in the last three years. In 2016 they beat Los Banos, 8-7, in the first round, but were eliminated shortly after with back-to-back losses to El Capitan. The Bruins missed the playoffs in 2017.

Bear River has never won a baseball section championship. The last time it reached a section championship game was 2007 when the Bruins lost to Oakdale in the D-IV title game.

The Falcons are in the playoffs for the second straight year. In 2017, Colfax was the No. 9 seed and topped No. 8 Union Mine in a play-in game before upsetting No. 1 seed Los Banos, 3-2. The Falcons were eliminated shortly after by Placer. Colfax has never won a baseball section championship either. The last time the Falcons reached a title game for baseball was 2013 when they lost to Yuba City in the D-III championship.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

KNOW & GO

Who: No. 2 Bear River vs. No. 3 Colfax

What: Sac-Joaquin Section D-V baseball playoffs

When: 3 p.m., Saturday

Where: Tony Zupo Field, Lodi

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