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Valley Christian returns to Division VII title game in baseball

Lions sweep Elliot Christian; Granite Bay needs three games to beat McClatchy in Division II
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Valley Christian will meet Tracy-Millennium for the second year in a row in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII baseball championship game.

The Lions (22-6) scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday and defeated Lodi-Elliot Christian 7-5 to complete a 2-0 sweep of their best-of-three semifinal series at McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks in Sacramento.

The father of Valley Christian coach Brad Gunter Jr. had to miss last year’s playoff run because of a health issue. That included the Lions’ 3-1 victory over Millennium in the championship game on Memorial Day in Lodi.

But Brad Gunter Sr. met his son with a “huge hug” on the field following Tuesday’s victory.

“Hoping to get another from him on Monday,” Gunter Jr. said.

The Lions have won 18 games in a row and haven’t lost since the final game of the SureWest tournament April 3. That’s also the last time Gunter shaved.

Valley Christian scored three runs without a hit in the top of the first inning. Three walks, a hit batter, a bad pickoff throw and a balk did the damage.

But Elliot Christian (16-9) must have been keeping a razor and shaving cream close. The Eagles scored two runs in the fourth and tied the score 5-5 in the fifth on Austin Vickers’ two-run homer to right.

Alas, Gunter’s whiskers survive. Bronson Buljan doubled to lead off the seventh for the Lions and scored on Levi Hagerty’s single. Hagerty, who had three RBI, went to second on the throw to the plate and scored on Zach Sween’s single to center.

Jake Sween then set down Elliot in order in the seventh. He allowed nine hits in pitching a complete game but walked none.

“Good W. Humbling,” Gunter said, recalling that Valley Christian rebounded from a loss in game one of last season’s semifinal series to beat Elliot Christian 2-1. “I just pray we can finish this amazing run again against a very good Millennium team … and they have everyone back.”