Quite a campaign
SACRAMENTO – Brynn Beck and A.J. Nuñez slung their bat bags over their shoulders, stepped out of the dugout and tried to keep a stiff upper lip.
That lasted about as long as it took for Bear River assistant coach Steve French to give each of the seniors a hug, as he congratulated them on quite a campaign.
The best playoff run in Bear River baseball history came to an abrupt halt Monday afternoon against the Oakdale Mustangs in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game at American River College.
The Bruins three-game playoff win streak came to an end in a 12-0, five-inning loss to the champion Mustangs, who closed the season with their 15th straight victory to grab hold the section championship banner.
“They’re a juggernaut,” said Bear River coach Mike Viola. “We’ve watched them, so we knew how good they were. We watched them destroy Colfax. We watched them beat up on Placer. We knew.”
Oakdale (27-4), the Valley Oak League champion, dismantled all three Pioneer Valley League playoff teams it played in the playoffs, the lastest being PVL champ Bear River (20-7-2).
The Mustangs downed Colfax 10-0 in the opener, followed by a pair of wins over Placer (10-4 and 13-1) to advance to the title game against the Bruins.
After a three-up, three-down first inning for both teams – and another perfect frame for Oakdale in top of the second – the Mustangs broke free in their next at bat.
Oakdale quickly zeroed in on Bear River junior southpaw Brandon King, racking up seven runs on five hits and two errors by the Bruins. The big hit of the inning, a two-run triple, came off the bat of senior Marshall Coffee.
“That shows you how good of a hitting team they are,” said Viola. “They hit Brandon King, which no team up to this point had been able to do. After one inning, their coach talks to them and then they hit the crap out of the ball.
“You’ve got to hand it to them. They hit Colfax’s guys. They hit Placer’s guys. And they hit our guys.”
Four Bruins took the mound in four innings of action, including three who saw action in the third inning. Vince Viola started the inning, walked two batters and hit another, before being relieved by Beck.
Inheriting a bases-loaded jam with no outs, Beck walked the first batter he faced, forcing a run home and then allowed a sacrifice fly and three run-scoring singles. With the Bruins trailing 12-0, Viola handed the ball James McCririe for the final 1 1/3 innings of the game.
“I told James ‘I’m running out of bullets for my gun. We’re in trouble,'” Viola said.
On the opposite side of the ledger, Oakdale pitcher Boone Whiting allowed just one hit – a second-inning single to Beck – struck out four and walked none in four innings of action. Ryan Vandertuig finished up the fifth for the Mustangs, striking out three of the four batters he faced.
Despite the defeat, Viola said the history-making season the Bruins put together helped ease some of the sting of a season-ending loss.
“Only one teams ends with a win,” he said. “Of all the teams and all the leagues, to be one of the teams standing at the end the last day is all you could hope for.
“I told the guys that way back when we were scrimmaging Woodcreek – and after we stopped trying to keep track of runs (allowed) after 15 – to say we would be here right now, I would have bet my house against it. But they came back and worked hard and just worked their butts off. That’s what they did.”
After Beck and Nuñez shared their a final hug before leaving the ballpark Monday, the two seniors spoke of what it meant to make school history and set the table for the future of Bear River baseball.
“The guys made it so easy for us (as senior leaders),” Beck said. “I was never given so much respect by anyone.”
“It was definitely awesome,” Nuñez added. “It was a fun year and fun experience. It was definitely fun to come back from last year (a first-round loss) and do something we could do, especially with the guys we had this year, it definitely made it fun the whole way through.
“It could have been better with that banner … but, oh well.”
Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4240.
Division IV championship
OAKDALE 12, BEAR RIVER 0
Bear River ab r h bi
Bryan Sibis 2 0 0 0
James McCririe 2 0 0 0
A.J. Nuñez 2 0 0 0
Brynn Beck 2 0 1 0
Stephen Hilton 1 0 0 0
Kyle Waldman 1 0 0 0
Vince Viola 1 0 0 0
Patrick Scott 1 0 0 0
Chad Smith 1 0 0 0
Brandon Fry 1 0 0 0
Austin French 1 0 0 0
Jordan Beskeen 1 0 0 0
Drew Loftus 1 0 0 0
Totals 17 0 1 0
Oakdale ab r h bi
Kevin Coffee 3 1 0 0
Tim Sanders 1 0 0 0
Marshall Coffee 3 1 1 2
Bryce Gerhardt 1 0 0 0
Daniel Suarez 3 2 2 2
Justin Boyd 1 0 0 0
Ryan Vandertuig 3 1 1 0
Gus Aguilar 2 0 0 0
Chris Gonzales 1 0 1 1
Dante Major 3 2 2 1
Justin Jones 3 2 1 0
Boone Whiting 2 2 1 1
Trevor Bruce 1 1 0 1
Trent Williams 0 0 0 0
Totals 27 12 9 8
Bear River (20-6-2) 000 00 – 0 1 4
Oakdale (26-4) 075 0x – 12 9 2
Bear River IP R H BB K
Brandon King 2 7 5 0 0
Vince Viola 0 3 0 3 0
Brynn Beck 2/3 2 2 1 0
James McCririe 1 1/3 0 0 1
Oakdale IP R H BB K
Boone Whiting 4 0 1 0 4
Ryan Vandertuig 1 0 0 0 3
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