Jesuit rallies to oust Miners from playoffs
SACRAMENTO – Through three innings on Saturday morning, Nic Gauldin and the Nevada Union baseball team appeared to be in control of their own destiny in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
However, the Miners saw a 3-0 lead disappear in a cloud of errors as Jesuit scored 11 runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to a 17-4 victory at American River College.
Jesuit (22-7) capitalized on two Nevada Union errors to score five runs and take a 5-3 lead in the fourth. The Marauders added six more runs with the help of four errors in the fifth to break it open. The Miners committed 10 errors overall.
While Jesuit advances into the Division I double elimination bracket with a 4 p.m. contest today against Davis, Nevada Union (19-9) calls it a season.
The Miners looked good early behind the pitching of Nic Gauldin, who retired nine of the 10 batters he faced through three innings – the only baserunner reaching on an error to open the game.
Meanwhile, they went right to work offensively. Sophomore Kelcey Wirick was hit by a pitch from Jesuit’s Jake Morton to lead off the home half of the first inning. Darrel Smeltzley doubled down the right field line, then Wirick scored on a passed ball and Smeltzley scored on a two-out error.
Nevada Union extended its lead to 3-0 in the second. Dan Stith reached on an infield hit, Devin Genovese walked and both runners advanced on Brandon Maraglia’s sacrifice bunt. Stith eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Miners threatened again in the third. Josh Noxon led off with an infield single, stole second and Gauldin followed with another infield hit to put runners at the corners. The Miners had runners on second and third with two outs when Stith was walked intentionally to load the bases. The move paid off for Jesuit because Morton induced Genovese to hit a ground ball to second base for the inning-ending out.
Meanwhile, Gauldin cruised through his first three innings on the mound – but that’s when the Miners ran into trouble.
J.R. Higley walked on four pitches to lead off the fourth for Jesuit, then stole second base and scored when Lars Anderson hit an opposite field drive that bounced over the left field fence for Jesuit’s first hit. The ball was originally ruled a home run (Anderson has 14 this season), however, the umpires conferred and changed the call to a ground rule double.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter.
Marcus Kemp and Trevor Paine walked, Vinnie Catricalla reached on a bunt single and advanced on an overthrow, then Cory Vaughn delivered an RBI single as the Marauders took a 5-3 lead.
Russell Brackett came on to pitch in relief of Gauldin at the start of the fifth, only to fall victim to a Higley base hit, a throwing error, Kemp’s RBI single and Paine’s double to right field. Stith came in to pitch at that point and was greeted by Catricalla’s two-run double into the right-center field gap. Catricalla went 3-for-4 with three RBIs on the day.
Nevada Union answered with one run in the bottom half of the fifth when Gauldin singled, stole second and scored on a passed ball.
By then, it was too little, too late.
Morton pitched five innings of five-hit ball to go with five strikeouts and three walks to earn the win.
Gauldin hit 2-for-3 to lead the Miners offensively. Smeltzley, Stith, Gauldin and Noxon contributed base hits and Josh Pitts came off the bench and singled in his role as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Even with 10 errors, the Miners had bright moments in the field. Among those was Noxon, who showed why he was a first-team All-Metro Conference center fielder when he ran down a deep fly ball to make an inning-ending catch in the second. Noxon also charged a sharp liner to make a running catch to end the sixth.
To contact sports editor Dave Price, e-mail davidp@theunion .com or call 477-4240.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.