Valley Christian wins another Division VII baseball title
Someone was missing from Valley Christian Academy’s victory over Tracy-Millennium in the 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII baseball championship in Lodi, and when that someone is the pastor, administrator, founder and very patriarch of the school … well, his absence isn’t simply forgotten a year later.
And because the man nearly died, it made the Lions’ 6-0 victory over Millennium much more emotional Monday at Sacramento City College.
Brad Gunter Sr. hugged everyone he could wrap his arms around, and it wasn’t the quick chest bump today’s teens do between classes. This Gunter hug was a long, full, sincere embrace.
Up the first-base line he went, from Jake Sween, Quentin Moore and the rest of the seniors to sophomore Jeremiah Moore, who tossed a squeaky-clean, 83-pitch complete game, to freshman grandson Micah Gunter and son/head coach Brad Gunter Jr.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Gunter Sr. said as El Camino and Rosemont warmed up for the Division III final Monday, the second game of a tripleheader. “I live and breathe with these kids. To be here now, they’re part of my life.”
Seeing Gunter Sr. with the section banner in his hand made Valley Christian’s fourth title in five years extra special for his son.
“We didn’t know what was wrong with him,” said Gunter Jr., who after last year’s championship game drove home from Lodi and delivered the 2011 banner to his dad.
Tests eventually revealed a blood infection that, as Gunter Sr. said, “was eating up my heart.” They almost lost him twice.
“I was destined to die,” he said.
But he didn’t, and Monday, Gunter Sr. had bounce in his 61-year-old legs and plenty of muscle in those hugs.
“He’s doing outstanding,” Gunter Jr. said.
Quentin Moore, who singled in a run during Valley Christian’s five-run first, described the feeling as “awesome.”
Jake Sween received a hug following his complete game against Lodi-Elliot Christian in the Lions’ semifinal series last week and got seconds Monday.
“It was the same feeling — nice,” he said.
Jeremiah Moore pitched a two-hitter and struck out five. He walked one and went to a three-ball count on just three hitters while facing three batters over the minimum.
One Millennium (20-8) runner reached third base, but Jose Avila was picked off by Lions first baseman Jimmy Shaw when he rounded third too far to end the fourth.
Shaw had the first of Valley Christian’s four hits in the first, and Bronson Buljan and Jeremiah Moore each had a two-run single.
Pinch runner Demetrius Flood stole home for Valley Christian’s final run in the sixth as Zach Sween was being picked off at first.
The Lions (23-6) capped the season on a 19-game run, during which time Gunter Jr. didn’t shave. On Monday, the beard sported added color to its considerable length. It doesn’t yet measure up to ZZ Top standards, but maybe one day …
“After 19 straight, it might stick around,” he said.