Tigers ready to enjoy playoff experience
The first game of the baseball playoffs is a source of concern for high school baseball coaches throughout the Sac-Joaquin Section.
While the opener is single elimination, once a team survives that opening game, it moves on to a second round best-of-three series, but that first contest is a winner-take-all, one game affair.
At Roseville High, coach Hank DeMello and the Tigers are enjoying just being in the postseason derby, but they want to go even further.
“You do everything to get to that best-of-three series,” DeMello said. “You have to go with the best you have. We are excited to be in the playoffs and I would have loved either side of the bracket as that means you're in. Division II is probably the toughest division so there isn't anything easy.”
DeMello knows a little bit about his opening opponent, Rosemont, but it almost doesn’t matter who they are and what he knows. He is always nervous heading into game day.
“I worry about every game,” DeMello said. “I'm worried that they held us to one run in the first meeting.”
Roseville opens the playoffs against the same team it saw in its opener, but the Tigers lost that encounter with Rosemont by a 2-1 count.
“They have some team speed,” DeMello said. “We were able to keep them off the bases in the first meeting. It was the first game of the season and we were dealing with the identity of our team. We had some guys not in the starting lineup that were huge for us during the season.”
The Tigers are all too familiar with what can happen with the single-elimination opener. It has been while since they were in the postseason party, but DeMello remembers it well.
“You have to get the first one,” DeMello said. “A few years ago in our last trip to the playoffs we ran into a buzz saw. We had to face Tyler Robertson who signed a few weeks later and throwing 95 miles per hour with a nasty breaking ball at eight o’clock at night.”
For the Tigers, the name of the game has been small ball of late. They got into the postseason by winning two-of-three from Del Oro with a mixture of good pitching and small ball. At the top of the order, Matt Hack and Beau Smith do a great job getting on base, and from there, third base is just a couple of pitches away.
Both players love to take off early in the count and are very successful at stealing bases. Once they are aboard, the heart of the order is tough, with Anthony Roberts, Dalton Blaser, John Silva and Matt Parks all providing solid sticks for Roseville.
“We are looking to play our game,” DeMello said. “We'll mix in a little running, timely hitting (hopefully), and pitching.”
Tyler Ash is not going to light up anyone’s radar gun, but he has turned into an effective pitcher for the Tigers. The senior’s ability to keep hitters from making solid contact allows him to get outs with pop outs and ground balls.
The winner of this game will meet the winner of the Friday night late game between Granite Bay and Ponderosa in a best-of-three next week. Roseville and Rosemont will throw it out there at 5 p.m. Friday at Sac City College.
Sac-Joaquin Section Division II baseball playoffs
First round, single elimination
All games at Sac City College
Thursday, 5 p.m. – Oak Ridge vs. McClatchy
Thursday, 8 p.m. – Rocklin vs. Christian Brothers
Friday, 5 p.m. – Roseville vs. Rosemont
Friday, 8 p.m. – Granite Bay vs. Ponderosa