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VCA locks up SMAL title with win over Bradshaw

Lions's Shaw solid on the mound
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Both the present and the future look good for the baseball team at Valley Christian Academy. As the Lions prepare to enter the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoffs as two-time defending champions, they capped their league season with a masterful performance. Facing Bradshaw Christian ace Brady Dragmire with the league title on the line, Valley Christian got just enough offense and a pitching gem of its own in winning its 13th straight Sacramento Metro Athletic League title outright with a 3-2 victory Friday. That result did not look likely for the Lions a few weeks ago as they struggled out of the gate, but Brad Gunter’s crew hit the ground running once it go to the league schedule and did not look back. “It was a huge win for sole possession of our 13th straight league title plus a No. 1 seed in the CIF tourney,” Gunter said. “Who would have thought we could turn this season around? I am so proud of all the players and grateful to all my coaches for all of their hard work.” Ryan Cordell brought the offense for VCA on Friday, scoring in the first after beating out an infield single, and then moving to second on an error before scoring on a throwing error committed trying to throw him out stealing third base. The senior shortstop, who is himself the Lions’ ace pitcher, tacked on the team’s other two runs with a two-run home run in the home half of the third. With Cordell having pitched this week’s first game against Bradshaw (8-2 in the SMAL, 15-11 overall), the battle against Dragmire was left to Lion freshman left-hander Jimmy Shaw. The southpaw matched Dragmire’s performance on the day, almost to the number as both pitchers went the distance while allowing just four hits, striking out 11 hitters and walking just two. The Pride picked up single runs in the third (doubles by Tyler Takahashi and E.J. Edinburgh did not get one home, but a sacrifice fly did get them a single run). An Edinburgh home run in the fifth plated the second run for Bradshaw Christian. Both teams will be playing the D-VII tournament beginning next week, with VCA (10-0, 16-7) slated to open against Millennium High at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Galt Community Park.