The Sac-Joaquin Section posted the brackets for the Division I baseball playoffs late Wednesday. With the Sierra Foothill League added to the Division I post-season for the first time this spring, it adds to the excitement and intensity of the post-season.
The top three teams from that league will join the top trio of the Delta Valley Conference, the Monticello Empire League and the Delta River League in a 12-team bracket. All the first place teams will open action either Wednesday or Thursday, drawing an opening round bye. The winners from those four games will move onto a double-elimination part of the playoffs.
At this point of time there is no clear cut favorite. If it was a month or two ago I would have said, with some confidence, it would be Elk Grove heads above everyone else. Now, it isn't that certain.
They have the three best area high school players in Rowdy Tellez, Dom Nunez and Derek Hill, warranted by the fact that following four home games this year they took batting practice before an audience of professional baseball scouts for about 45 minutes each time. (Quick apologies to other great ball players like Pleasant Grove's Josh Adams, Franklin's Tyler Blake and Woodcreek's Steve Nogosek).
But, coach Jeff Carlson has decided to surround these three with sophomores and a freshman. What has happened is that seniors like D.J. Mico, Robert Ortega and Dave Smith have seen play time limited. Smith is the team's mound ace, but he's also a quality third baseman and has a solid bat. So do Mico and Ortega.
What's happened is that the frosh/soph contingent have looked nervous and out-of-place in at-bats against quality opposing pitchers like Pleasant Grove's Adams, Bradshaw's Austin Ragsdale and Davis' Adam Inouye and Matt Trask.
The run production from the younger guys hasn't been there. The older, more mature seniors would likely be able to handle the pressure better.
In a year where Elk Grove has such high-profile nationally-recognized guys like Nunez, Tellez and Hill, it would be a shame if the Herd doesn't sweep right through Section playoffs. They may, but the number six through nine guys in the lineup need to put up runs and key hits.
So Who Will Win The D-I North?
The hottest team is Oak Ridge, who tied P.G. for the DRL title. They concluded the regular season with a 12-game winning streak. Head coach Todd Melton told me a couple weeks back he's impressed with how well his team is playing.
Davis looked really good in the two wins against Elk Grove, but was blown up last week in a 12-2 loss to the Herd. The Blue Devils have ended the season on a high note by beating the Herd Tuesday in a 3-2 walkoff win.
Pleasant Grove gutted out a two-out-of-three series over Jesuit earlier this week. Matt Stafford has been great on the mound and at the plate this year along with shortstop Bronson Grubbs.
Bill Poindexter of the Roseville Press-Tribune keeps reminding me that the road to the D-I North title runs through Woodcreek. I haven't seen them (I did see Rocklin twice) but Poindexter says the SFL was loaded with good teams and quality players this season. Granite Bay is a team to watch.
Vacaville won the MEL this season and they were the team to eliminate Elk Grove last year.
What this means is that there is no clean favorite in Division I. This may be the best set of high school games we've seen in several years.