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First-place Granite Bay hits in clutch; Meza closes door on Rocklin

By: Brett Ransford/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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The top two baseball teams in the Sierra Foothill League didn’t disappoint in the opener of their big three-game series Monday.

Host Granite Bay, on the verge of 10-running visiting Rocklin at one point, blew most of an 8-0 lead before two shutout innings by closer Gabe Meza clinched the Grizzlies’ 12-8 victory.

Granite Bay (16-4 overall, 9-1 SFL) made use of two-out hitting and scored on four of its six bases-loaded situations. The Grizzlies slugged 10 of their 15 hits with two out. Sophomore Vinny Esposito had three hits, and Nick LeBeau, Aaron Knapp, Mitch Hart, Brett Bautista and Ryan Rosa had two hits each.

“We always like to set the tone by scoring a couple of early runs,” said Rosa, the Grizzlies’ No. 4 hitter. “Our team was constantly looking for the right pitch to drive.”

LeBeau, Rosa, Bautista and Hart, the Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 7 hitters, had two RBI each, seven with two outs, and Esposito had a two-out RBI.

The Thunder (12-9, 7-3) got a hold of Granite Bay starter Brendan Keeney and relievers Travis Magness and Scott Romuk in the fourth and fifth, scoring all eight runs on six hits.

Knapp’s run-scoring hit was followed by Bautista’s two-out, two-run double in the sixth.

Meza said Granite Bay head coach Pat Esposito tells him to go in and close the door.

“So I go out there and do my thing. You know?” Meza said. “As we started giving them free bases and they started taking advantage of us that way, we were able to stay composed and not panic.”

Granite Bay’s well-earned swagger will be tested in game two today at Rocklin and game three Friday at home.