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Rocklin beats Ponderosa twice in dramatic doubleheader

Thunder will battle Granite Bay in Monday's DII finals
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High’s baseball team beat Ponderosa twice Thursday night at Sacramento City College, putting the Thunder in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II finals against Sierra Foothill League rival Granite Bay. The DII championship game will be played at 6 p.m. at Sacramento City on Monday. Rocklin (22-8 overall) is 3-0 against Granite Bay (21-10) this season. Ponderosa won Game 1 of the three-game series on Monday night, 7-4, but Rocklin won Game 2, 7-3, on Thursday. Rocklin followed that up with an 8-7 victory later on Thursday night, in a game that packed tons of drama into each inning. Rocklin had a 2-0 lead after four innings in Game 3 but the Bruins scored five times in the top of the fifth. Rocklin then responded immediately with four runs in the last of the fifth inning. Ponderosa scored two runs in the top of the seventh and final inning but Rocklin scored twice in the last of the seventh to win the game. The Thunder squad and fans went crazy in celebration, the players dog-piling on top of each other in between first and second base. “Awesome game. I mean, come on, if you’re a spectator how can you not enjoy that game?” Rocklin coach Roc Murray said. “And can two teams do more than these two did a three-game series?” Rocklin scored single runs in the first and second innings in Game 3. The first run scored on an error while the second-inning run came across when Kevin Spaulding drove in Matt Fielding with a single. Ponderosa’s five-run rally in the fifth inning included two walks, an error, two singles and a three-run triple by Hunter Gallant. Rocklin’s Fielding replaced starting pitcher Kyle Garvella with one out in the inning. Fielding, who pitched in each game of the series, finished the game on the mound. Rocklin senior Pat Stover started off the last of the fifth with a triple and Jason Hampton followed up with a RBI single. Wes Marker and Garvella followed with walks and Trevor McVey had a run-scoring single to make the score 5-4. Marker then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Garvella, caught in a run down between third and home after a Gordon walk, scored the go-ahead run when a throw by the Ponderosa third baseman hit him in the helmet. Neither team scored in the sixth inning but Ponderosa co-coach Eric January was ejected in the top of the inning after it was ruled that a pitch that hit his batter (Stephan Brown) in the wrist had also hit his bat for a foul ball. The seventh inning was wild. Gallant and Michael Cunningham both singled with one out for the Bruins before Tanner McMahon flied out to right field. Matt Evanoff then walked to load the bases and Kevin Daniels ripped a ball off Fielding’s foot that rolled into the outfield. Two runs scored on the play and Ponderosa was now three outs from advancing to the DII finals. Steven Hurley was hit by a pitch to lead off the Thunder seventh and Cameron Gordon made an out after fouling off a bunt with two strikes. Justin Castro walked and Spaulding bunted the runners over. Stover was then walked intentionally, setting up a bases-loaded and two-out situation for Hampton. Hampton hit a soft grounder but Ponderosa shortstop Neal O’mohundro made an error on the play and Hurley scored to tie the game. Marker then hit another grounder to O’mohundro and Castro scored on an error to win the game. Garvella, Rocklin’s No. 3 starter, was solid on the mound for Rocklin, giving up two earned runs (four total) in 4 and 1/3 innings. He blanked Ponderosa for the first four innings. “He gave us four, big-time money innings in a clutch situation,” Murray said. “We needed somebody to step up and do that. His game of the year was tonight. He had all four pitches working (fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter).” Fielding earned the win in relief, throwing the final 2 2/3 innings. Stover went 2-for-3 in the win with two intentional walks, a double and a triple. His two hits came while leading off an inning. Hampton pitched the first six innings of Game 2, giving up three runs, one earned run, six hits and no walks while striking out five. Fielding struck out the side in the seventh inning to secure the victory. Stover started off the action with a two-run homer off Evanoff in the first inning. He went 2-4 in the game. Combining both of Thursday night’s games, Stover hit for the cycle. “That was cool (the cycle in one day) – I was thinking about that in the last inning (of Game 3),” Stover said. Rocklin scored twice more in the fourth inning as Hurley scored on a wild pitch and Spaulding drove in Gordon with a single. Ponderosa scored three times in the last of the sixth inning to make it 4-3 but Rocklin responded immediately with three runs in the top of the seventh. Marker and Garvella had RBI doubles in the seventh while Hampton hit a sacrifice fly. Castro (2-4) joined Stover with multiple hits for Rocklin. Now it’s on to the championship for Rocklin. “We’re always pumped up to play our rival,” said Stover about Granite Bay. “This is huge.”