PREP BASEBALL: Rogers’ blast sends Bear River to second round of playoffs |

PREP BASEBALL: Rogers’ blast sends Bear River to second round of playoffs

After a five year absence from the postseason, the Bear River baseball team roared back onto the scene Wednesday, and now they’re going to stay awhile.

Bear River, the No. 3 seed, opened the 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs with a come-from-behind, extra inning win over No. 6 Los Banos, 8-7, capped off by a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning by sophomore catcher Jake Rogers.

“I just had to do something for us,” Rogers said after the game. “I was just waiting for that one pitch and I got it. I’m just happy to still be in it and give the seniors more time.”

Playing at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi, Rogers led off the bottom of the eighth inning for Bear River, and the first ball he made contact with sent the outfielders sprinting toward the left field fence. As the ball disappeared behind the tall green wall, the Bear River players and fan base exploded with jubilation.

“That was amazing,” said Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten. “We just stayed in it, never gave up and that’s the real deal. That’s what baseball is all about. You can’t predict this game until the last out.”

Early on Los Banos was in control, scoring five runs in the first inning and adding another two in the second inning to grab a 7-0 lead.

But, as it is so often, it’s not how a team starts, rather how it finishes that will determine the outcome.

The Bruins began their comeback in the bottom of the fifth inning, an inning in which they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. Justin Leonard got the inning started with a base hit, Bear Belding added an infield single and Matt Lopez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Bear River third baseman Jacob Cross then ripped a bases clearing double into the right center field gap. After another Bruin was hit by a pitch and another walk, Jacob Van Patten drew an RBI walk to bring the score to 7-4. Justin Dooley then drove a pair in when he reached on a throwing error. Jacob Van Patten would later score on a passed ball to bring the score even. The game would stay at 7-7 until Rogers’ blast in extra innings.

Belding earned the win from the mound, pitching the eighth inning, allowing one hit and no runs. Leonard got the start and went the first 3.1 innings, allowing seven runs off 10 hits. Joe Rantz relieved Leonard, throwing 3.2 innings of shutout, two hit baseball.

Contributing from the plate for Bear River was Belding with three base hits and a run scored, Cross with a double and three RBIs, Griffin Frank with a hit and a run scored, Will Last with a base knock and a run scored, Dooley with two hits, Leonard with a hit and Rogers was 2-for-3 with the game winning jack.

In all the Bruins tallied 11 hits.

The Bruins (18-9-1) will now play the winner of the No. 7 Placer vs. No. 2 El Capitan game on Saturday.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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