Granite Bay tops Oakmont, clinches share of league title

Grizzlies overcome early four-run hole
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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After spotting rival Oakmont a four-run first inning lead, the Granite Bay High baseball team came roaring back to close out its season with a 10-6 victory. As the last team in the Sierra Foothill League with a bye in the seven-team conference, the Grizzlies are the leader in the clubhouse with a 14-4 record. They are guaranteed no worse than a co-championship pending the outcome of Rocklin’s season-ending three-game series against Oakmont. Four straight Vikings – Brandon Vargas, Tyler Kuresa, Kory Groves and Nick Hoffman – singled against Granite Bay starter Josh Hall as Oakmont scored four in the first. Jared Virtue also added a run-scoring single in the inning. Granite Bay lead-off hitter Sean Sundberg singled and scored on a wild pitch in the Grizzly first as his team started to peck away at the margin. A walk to Jake Riffice, followed by hits from Adam Mastrantonio and Sundberg scored a second Granite Bay run in the second stanza. Hits by Jordan Weber, Nate Esposito, Jake Marjama and Riley Drongesen helped the Grizzlies tally three times in the fourth to take a 5-4 advantage. The Oakmont fifth began much like the first frame. Singles by Drew Wixon and Vargas got things started, and then back-to-back walks forced home the tying run. With the bases juiced and no one out, Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito went to the bullpen for his No. 1 starter, three days removed from a complete game win over the Vikings. Braden Young came out of the bullpen to escape that inning with no damage. Hoffman ripped a shot at Nate Esposito. The third baseman fielded the hot smash and threw home for the force out on Groves. When catcher Andrew Knapp beat Hoffman to first with the return throw, the double play brought Cooper Mathews to the dish with runners at second and third and two out. Mathews smoked the ball in the direction of Nate Esposito, and while it handcuffed him slightly, the junior made the play and threw Mathews out to end the threat. The escape act left the game tied and preserved for Granite Bay the opportunity to win it down the stretch. The Grizzlies finally got it done in the home half of the sixth, with a little help from Oakmont. Sundberg was hit by a pitch to lead off the five-run rally, and after a ground ball out, Andrew Knapp delivered a single to chase Sundberg home. Marjama followed with a single to score Knapp, and though he was retired on the bases, Granite Bay was not finished. A Drongesen double was followed by a pair of free passes to load the bases for Matt Gifford. The Grizzly designated then ripped the ball off the fence in right field to clear the bags and put Granite Bay on top 10-5. Oakmont got one back in the seventh, but it was not nearly enough. The loss leaves the Vikings (5-10 in the SFL, 11-12 overall) officially eliminated from postseason consideration. Granite Bay (14-4, 19-8) will sit back and watch as Rocklin (11-4, 18-6) finishes its season with a three-game set against Oakmont next week. If the Thunder lose once, the Grizzlies will win the league title outright and move on to the section tournament as the SFL’s No. 1 seed, but if Rocklin wins out, the two will share the league crown and the Thunder will be the No. 1 seed based on a 2-1 head-to-head record against Granite Bay this season. The Division II playoffs open May 20 at Sac City College.