PREP BASEBALL: Bear River run to championship round ends in loss to Colfax
Special to The Union
SACRAMENTO — The Cinderella season Bear River’ Bruins were looking to finish with a championship struck midnight Monday afternoon, when they dropped the “if” game to a gritty Colfax team, 14-3.
But to reach the second game of the championship round, Bear River had one of its most powerful offensive outputs of the season to win game one. The Bruins, who needed a win to stay alive and force a game two — managed to beat Colfax 14-9. The win by Bear River snapped the Falcons’ 22-game win streak they rode into the championship games.
Bear River raced out to a 9-2 lead in game one, headlined by a 3-for-3 performance at the plate from Sophomore Nick Baltz. Colfax managed to come back behind a six-run fifth inning and a run in the six to tie up the game at nine after six innings. The Bruins in the top half of the inning scored five runs to take game one 14-9.
The win gave Bear River baseball its first win in a championship game in school history.
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“Winning that first game gave us the opportunity to control our own fate,” Bear River coach Eric Van Patten. “The win also proved to us, this team is just as good, and we can hang with anyone.”
“This is only the second time this school has been to a final and I’m so proud of this group,” Van Patten added.
But in order to win the championship, Bear River would have to beat the Falcons again — which would be no easy task. Colfax went on to win game two, 14-3 in six innings, to capture their second section championship in school history.
A coin flip after game one deemed Bear River would be the home team for game two, which allowed Colfax to take their at-bats first. The Falcons scored two in the first inning via a pair of RBI singles, but Bear River would answer.
The Bruins scored both of their runs in the first inning of the bat of Damian Christen, to tie the game at two at the end of one inning. But after that, it was all Colfax.
The Falcons scored two more in the second and five in the third to lead 9-3 after three innings of play. Colfax then added two runs in the fourth and sixth inning to take a 14-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. With a 10-run mercy rule in play, the Bruins would need to score two runs to keep their season alive.
Although they did get a runner on base via a walk, the Bruins weren’t able to muster up any more offense. The loss ended the prep careers of four seniors, including coach Eric Van Patten’s son, Nathan.
“These seniors have meant a tremendous amount to our program,” Van Patten emphasized. “All of them have done it for us all season and made impacts in different ways.”
Nathan Van Patten will continue his baseball career at Ohlone College in Fremont next year.
“Watching (my son) develop as a ballplayer has been a joy,” Van Patten confessed. “As a father and a coach I’m proud of the way he’s developed as a man.”
Despite the loss, coach Van Patten knows this program has come a long way and the rivalry between the two Pioneer Valley League clubs is just getting started.
“The rivalry (between Colfax and Bear River) is a healthy rivalry,” Van Patten said. “All of the kids are friends off the field and have lots of respect for one another. I am proud of Colfax for representing the PVL well.”
Cameron Salerno is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Union.
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