In the opener at Sacramento City College's Union Stadium, Elk Grove eliminated defending Division II champion Woodcreek, 8-5, in an eight-inning thriller.
Franklin upset Delta River League co-champion Oak Ridge, 4-1, in the nightcap behind Connor Adams' complete game seven-hitter.
In winning its second consecutive single-elimination playoff game, the Herd beat Oregon-bound right hander Stephen Nogosek on Rowdy Tellez' RBI single in the top of the eighth inning which scored Carlos Moseley. Two batters later Dave Smith drove in Dom Nunez on a sacrifice fly. The relay throw from left field went past the third baseman and into the Elk Grove dugout which allowed Tellez to also score on the play for Elk Grove's third run of the inning.
Smith, who came on in relief for the second straight game, picked up the win by pitching the final two-and-two-thirds innings.
(Listen to my post-game interviews with Wright and Smith)
Tellez was three-for-three at the plate including a first-inning moon shot to give Elk Grove an early 2-0 lead.
Woodcreek was down 5-3 going into the sixth inning, but tied up the game when Herd starter Mikey Wright walked one and hit the next batter. Nogosek and Cy Hines each followed with an RBI single to tie the game. Smith came out of the bullpen to get Timberwolves' starting pitcher Tyler Milani to hit into a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.
The game got real intense in the bottom of the seventh inning when Woodcreek's Alex Montes opened with a line drive to deep left-centerfield. Herd outfielders Peyton Wheatley and Derek Hill collided trying to field the ball and Montes was safe at second.
Dylan Spieza then popped up a ball in foul territory. First baseman Tellez caught the ball in front of the Woodcreek dugout and his momentum took him out of play. That allowed Spieza to advance to third.
With the winning run 90 feet away and one out, Smith then struck Dylan Bell with a big curveball for called strike three. After walking George Corp, Smith battled for 12 pitches against Hank Pankratz. Pankratz at one stage fouled off five consecutive two-strike offerings from Smith. He finally grounded out to Herd shortstop Nick Madrigal to end the threat.
With the win, it put Elk Grove into the second round of the playoffs against Franklin, the third seed from the DVC and the defending North Division I champions. The game will be at Union Stadium at noon Saturday.
Franklin battered around Oak Ridge ace Austin Root for 11 hits, three each by Hank LoForte and Tyler Blake. Blake had a solo homer in the fifth inning, his fourth in as many games.
The Trojans entered the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak. Tonight the other DRL co-champion Pleasant Grove will open the post-season in a game with Vacaville, the Monticello Empire League winners.
Blake went with a smaller bat the last three game and has pounded the ball. He said it's a bit shorter and he grips it with his little finger off the bat.
Franklin head coach Bryan Kilby called Adams "a real bulldog" after his complete game win. He's very pleased with the way the Wildcats are now hitting the ball. They lost all three games this season to Elk Grove.
[Listen to my post-game interview with Bryan Kilby]
Nogosek, who came on in relief for Woodcreek in the sixth inning, was impressive by striking out five Elk Grove batters, yet he also walked four. Scouts sitting in front of the press box regularly clocked his fastball on their jugs guns between 91 and 93 mph.
Smith remarked afterwards he hasn't faced anyone who could throw the ball that hard. He admitted he was a bit lucky to drive the ball to left field as well as he did to drive in the two insurance runs in Elk Grove's eighth inning.
The other game tonight at SCC will pit Jesuit against Davis, the DVC champion.