A bases-loaded walk to Matt Aday given up by Franklin relief pitcher Tyler Blake in the sixth inning forced in Rowdy Tellez and that was the difference as Elk Grove defeated Franklin, 5-4, in a Delta Valley Conference showdown Monday.
Earlier in the inning, Dom Nunez stretched a long single into a double, stole third base and scored on Derek Hill’s single to tie the game at four apiece.
Nunez then came on and earned the save by pitching the seventh inning after Mikey Wright threw a pair of solid innings in relief of starting pitcher Tellez for Elk Grove.
With the win Elk Grove went to 8-4 overall, 2-0 in the DVC. Franklin is 1-1 in the conference and 6-6 overall.
The host Wildcats started their ace Josh Pigg, but the slender right hander had trouble finding the plate. He walked four, hit one batter and surrendered two runs on two hits in the first couple frames.
Elk Grove tacked on another run in the third inning, led 3-0 before Franklin got on the scoreboard.
Tellez started the bottom of the third by plunking Ryan Sarginson and then freshman infielder Hank LoForte pushed a drag bunt past the mound. Franklin had men on first and second. Blake followed with a triple to left center, scoring Sarginson and LoForte to narrow the margin to 3-2, Elk Grove.
The Wildcats tied the game when Blake scored on a ground ball out by Pigg.
Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson juggled his lineup a bit by moving Nunez and Tellez up one spot in the lineup and placing Hill, a promising sophomore centerfielder, in the cleanup slot.
“I just feel he’s a guy who can handle the pressure, based on the games I saw him in San Diego,” Carlson said. “He’s very confident, very athletic. Once his timing comes around he’ll be a big threat for us at the plate.”
Hill, who transferred to Elk Grove from Iowa, became eligible to play just prior to the Herd’s trip to San Diego during spring break. He showed excellent bat speed and foot speed during Monday’s game.
Weather permitting, Elk Grove plays DVC games Wednesday at Laguna Creek and will have a home game against Davis Friday afternoon. Franklin plays Wednesday against Grant and Friday will host Monterey Trail.
Carlson has switched last year’s centerfielder, Andrew Horne, to right this season and has inserted back-up junior catcher Robert Ortega into left.
“Andrew has really come on and had some quality at-bats,” Carlson said. “He’s a presence in the box. Ortega has a plus arm and can run. He had a big outfield assist in our game against LaCosta Canyon (last week) for us.” …
Franklin head coach Bryan Kilby pulled Pigg after just two innings and moved him to left field. Brandon Keup pitched the middle three innings. While he was throwing, his younger brother, Cameron, was pitching for the Franklin JV team on the neighboring diamond. …
In picking up the loss in relief, it is the first career “L” Blake has earned in high school. The 6-5 junior has had some arm trouble since fall workouts. …
The last time Franklin defeated Elk Grove in baseball was March 30, 2009. …
Because of the ejection, Carlson will not be able to attend, and thus not coach Wednesday's game at Laguna Creek.