Woodcreek gains No. 1 seed from SFL in baseball playoffs

Rocklin edges Granite Bay; Grizzlies are seeded second, Thunder third
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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ROCKLIN — It was decided long ago that social media was responsible for taking the young generation off the playgrounds and planting their faces into the screens of their computers, iPods, iPhones, BlackBerries (or is it BlackBerrys?) and other contraptions that can put people in other places without actually being there.

On the other hand, social media does come in handy for the older set, too, because Granite Bay and Rocklin high school baseball fans knew from inning to inning what was going on with Woodcreek and Nevada Union on Wednesday in Grass Valley, and vice versa.

Granite Bay knew before it had its visiting dugout cleaned out that it would be the No. 2 seed in the Sierra Foothill League after being nipped by Rocklin 2-1. A few minutes later, the Grizzlies (17-9 overall, 11-4 SFL) knew they’d be playing host to Jesuit, the No. 3 seed from the Delta River League, in a single-elimination game at 4 p.m. Monday.

“We wanted to win, but we still got a banner,” Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito said, adding that his players were, well, a little on the mad side. But as he reminded his Grizzlies, they have a playoff game to prepare for, while three other SFL teams are turning in gear.

And Woodcreek (20-6, 11-4), way up Highway 49, tapped into enough of a signal to following Granite Bay and Rocklin while erupting for eight runs in the top of the sixth inning and beating host Nevada Union 10-3 in Grass Valley.

The Timberwolves and Grizzlies share the SFL championship, but Woodcreek, by winning two of three in their series, earned the coveted first-round bye. The Timberwolves will have the opportunity to scout Delta Valley Conference runner-up Elk Grove and Monticello Empire League No. 3 Napa-Vintage on Monday and will meet the survivor at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, when the rest of the tournament moves to Sacramento City College.

“It’s huge,” Woodcreek coach Eric Valencia said of the No. 1 seed. “They have to come back on one day (of rest). It actually helps us out big-time. We get to rest a little. That was huge to get that No. 1.”

As SFL co-champs, Woodcreek and Granite Bay have some things in common. For one, both teams are swinging it.

Trailing 3-2 against an NU team that made an impressive charge in the SFL, Alex Montes started the Woodcreek sixth with a single. Dylan Spezia followed with a walk, and Joey Dirkes singled to load the bases.

Hank Pankratz’s sacrifice fly drove in the tying run, and the Timberwolves sent eight more batters to the plate. Two reached on errors. Tyler Milani and Spezia laced back-to-back two-run singles, and Dirkes had an RBI hit.

Both teams are deep in pitching as well, which will be key for their bullpens in single elimination and in the double-elimination final four.

When Timberwolves flamethrower Stephen Nogosek rested an aching shoulder, junior Cy Hynes stepped up and threw some big games.

Meanwhile, Granite Bay junior Mitch Hart received a clean bill of health and pitched well enough to win Wednesday. Rocklin scored in the second on an error, and back-to-back chops to third by Evan Durgarian and Joey Raymond helped Jake Faulkner score the go-ahead run in the sixth.

That was enough for junior Logan Webb, who did what no one has done in awhile and shut down the Granite Bay lineup. He relieved Danny Cogan in the third and pitched five innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts.

That was big for a Rocklin team that snapped a five-game losing streak and will play at DRL No. 2 Pleasant Grove on Monday. The result also gave 19th-year assistant coach Don Nunes a victory in his final home game.

“Granite Bay has played us so tough these last two days and again (Wednesday),” Thunder skipper Roc Murray said. “I haven’t felt that we’ve played with a lot of heart (lately), and that’s usually not the case. We played with a little heart (Wednesday).”

Contact Bill Poindexter at Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.