PREP BASEBALL: Bruins claw past Argonaut, will face Colfax for D-V title | TheUnion.com

PREP BASEBALL: Bruins claw past Argonaut, will face Colfax for D-V title

KNOW & GO

What: Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Baseball Championship

Who: No. 2 Colfax (25-6) vs. No. 5 Bear River (15-16)

When: 10 a.m., Monday.

Where: American River College, 4700 College Oak Dr, Sacramento

With consistent pitching, outstanding defense and an ability to adapt, the Bear River baseball team has earned its way into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship.

“Versatility has been key for us,” said Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten. “Guys being called upon to do some different things, play some different roles and positions, coming in athletically and with a learning spirit, and I think that’s broadened our overall game.”

The Bruins (15-16) will face rival Colfax (25-6) for the title, needing to top the Falcons twice to bring home the banner. The first game is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at American River College. If Bear River wins, a second and deciding game will be played shortly after. Colfax, who has yet to lose in the playoffs, only has to win once to grab the title.

“I told the fellas (Friday), ‘you’ve been invited to the show. Game 1 is the lobby. Game 2 is the banquet table. So, if you want to sit down and really feast we need to get through the lobby and to the banquet hall.’ I think these guys understand that. We’re not done,” said Van Patten.

The No. 5 seeded Bruins clawed their way to the title game through the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tourney. After beating No. 4 Linden, 7-6, in the opening round, Bear River fell to No. 1 seed Argonaut 12-2 in the second round May 17 and landed in the loser’s bracket. On Wednesday the Bruins got by No. 3 Hughson, 4-3. They then avenged their loss to Argonaut with a 5-3 victory Thursday, which propelled them to the title game where they will face a Colfax team yet to lose in the playoffs.

“What makes those tight games fun to win is the defense,” said Van Patten. “With the last two wins against Hughson and Argonaut, the defense was really outstanding.”

The Bruins’ ability to grind out wins in close games has served them well throughout the playoffs. All three of Bear River’s playoff wins so far have come by two runs or less.

“Diamonds are made under pressure,” said Van Patten. “I think we’re those in the rough. So, I think the pressure’s been good.”

In Thursday’s win over Argonaut, the Bruins got a solid effort from the bump as sophomore pitcher Colby Lunsford held the powerful Mustangs lineup in check.

From the plate, Lunsford helped himself out with a base hit, an RBI and two runs scored. He also stole two bases.

Bear River also got strong play from senior Nathan Van Patten, who had three hits, scored two runs and stole a base. Colton Jenkins chipped in a hit, an RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases. Taylor Chynoweth added two hits, and Nick Baltz had two RBIs in the win.

In Wednesday’s victory over Hughson, it was Jenkins who set the tone for the Bruins. The skilled junior pitched a complete game, and had a double and two RBIs from the plate. Logan Jenkins added two hits and an RBI. Damian Christen chipped in with an RBI triple in the win.

Colfax, the No. 2 seed, comes into Monday’s championship contest having won 20-straight games. The Falcons are also 3-0 against the Bruins this season, all of which came during Pioneer Valley League play where Colfax took first and the Bruins finished third.

Since the playoffs started, Colfax has mashed through through its competition, beating Western Sierra in the opening round, Hughson in the second round and Argonaut in the third round to punch their ticket to the title game with a clean 3-0 run through the bracket. Colfax, which won the Section’s D-V title a season ago, has outscored its playoff opponents 27-4. The Falcons were tested by Argonaut, but walked off the field with a 5-4 victory.

Colfax is led by talented players in Alex Weir, Jason Holm, Jason Harris, Colton Reeves and John Louis Pantlick.

Weir, a senior, is 7-for-10 with seven RBIs in the playoffs. He’s also 1-0 from the mound, pitching a complete-game two-hitter against Hughson.

Holm, a junior, is 2-0 from the bump, tossing a pair of complete-games to push the Falcons past Western Sierra in the opening round and Argonaut on Wednesday.

Harris has been on a tear from the plate all season and that has continued into the playoffs. The junior is 7-for-9 from the plate with three doubles and five RBIs across three postseason games.

Reeves, a senior, has four hits and three RBIs in the playoffs, and Pantlick, a junior, has a pair of multi-hit games this postseason.

The championship matchup between the two rivals is the second time this school year, the Bruins and Falcons have linked up with a section title on the line. In late November, Colfax edged Bear River, 31-28, for the Section’s D-V football crown.

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


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