PREP BASEBALL: Bear River roars past Western Sierra in first round of playoffs (PHOTO GALLERY)
Competing in their first home playoff baseball game in more than a decade, the Bear River Bruins gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about Thursday afternoon.
The No. 2 seed Bruins got a stellar effort from the mound and runs in bunches as they roughed up the No. 7 Western Sierra Wolves, 11-1, in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.
“Hitting game was good. Hitting game was on,” said Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten. “We had guys come through in key places with (Jake) Leonard and (Anthony) Crawford. And, bigger hits with (Jake) Rogers and (Cole) Winters.”
The Bruins didn’t wait long to get on the scoreboard, plating their first run in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single by Rogers that brought home Nathan Van Patten. It was the first of three hits for Rogers in the game.
The Bruins broke the game open with a five-run second inning in which they got a double from Leonard, a single from Crawford, an RBI triple from Nathan Van Patten, an RBI single from Justin Kilgore, an RBI double from Rogers and an RBI double from Winters.
“We adjusted to the pitcher,” Rogers said of Bear River’s big offensive output. “In the first inning we were a little shaky, but we adjusted and we were just moving runners around and doing what we’re supposed to do.”
In the game, the Bruins tallied 13 hits, including six that went for extra bases.
In the top of the third inning, a pair of Bear River errors led to Western Sierra’s lone run. But, the Bruins pitchers were able to get out of the inning with limited damage. As a team, Bear River made four errors, but were able to get out of trouble much of the time, leaving seven Wolves runners stranded throughout the game.
“I told the guys, ‘let the game come to you. It’s a patient man’s sport,’” Eric Van Patten said. “Let it develop and that’s how you go from a good team to a great team. Don’t get freaked out when you kick the ball around or get behind. We just wait for our time.”
Bear River did just that. The defense settled down and the offense kept crushing the ball.
The Bruins tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning, getting a two-run blast from Winters that soared over the left field fence in a hurry. Winters finished the day with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Bear River’s Colton Jenkins drove in Leonard with a base knock in the inning as well.
The Bruins put the final touches on an impressive hitting day with an RBI double from Damian Christin which scored Scottie Sandstedt in the sixth inning and put the Bruins up 11-1.
From the bump, the Bruins got a strong effort from starter Clay Corippo, who tossed the first 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and one unearned run while striking out three.
Aaron Sasville relieved Corippo and threw 3.1 no hit, no run innings while striking out one.
With the victory, the Bruins (14-14) now advance to a four-team double elimination tourney to settle the D-V section champ. Bear River, which earned the No. 2 seed after tying for second place in the Pioneer Valley League, will now face PVL rival and No. 3 seed Colfax at 3 p.m. Saturday at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi. The Falcons topped No. 6 San Juan, 5-4, in the first round to advance to Saturday’s matchup with Bear River.
For a complete look at the D-V bracket visit http://www.cifsjs.org.
The Bruins and Falcons have met up three times already this season with Colfax taking two out of three. All three games were decided by two runs or less.
Rogers said the key to keep winning is pretty simple.
“We got to stay together, not beat up on each other, keep our bats hot, keep moving runners around and just play hard.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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