Joe Davidson

Hometown Report: Raley Field prep series is a hit

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2012 - 8:43 am

Two no-hitters in one game, a titanic home run and the view.

That's a slice of what has happened so far in the Raley Field High School Baseball Series hosted by the River Cats. By mid-May, 48 regional prep teams will have been scheduled to compete in 24 games at the Triple-A ballpark in West Sacramento.

"Talk about first-class, and a lot of fun," Cordova coach Guy Anderson said. "I never got to play on a field like this. I once coached a state high school all-star team at Candlestick Park, but to have your own team enjoying this … it's special."

Last month, Jesuit pitcher Logan James faced rival Davis in a nonleague game, and he couldn't get over the pristine field. Or what he saw as a batter beyond center field.

"I love the lighted Tower Bridge," the Stanford-bound pitcher said.

Also last month, Roseville beat Pioneer of Woodland 2-0 in a contest that featured no-hitters by both teams.

Mark Reece of Roseville promised his mother a birthday no-hitter and delivered in a complete game. Pioneer's Robert Daugherty and Thomas Galart also combined to allow no hits.

Roseville scored once in the first inning on an error and once in the fourth on a passed ball.

The last time two area teams threw no-hitters against each other in one game was 1947, when Lincoln's Fred Besana beat Elk Grove's Richie Myers 1-0. Both pitchers reached the major leagues.

"Not only are (Reece, Daughterty and Galart) great baseball players, I could not have selected a better group from both sides to represent the game of baseball in such a beautiful venue," Pioneer coach Craig Marquez said.

Elk Grove beat Rodriguez of Fairfield 6-5 in a steady drizzle last month at Raley. Neither side was sure the game would be played. The River Cats' ground crew tarped the field and had it ready at game time.

Rowdy Tellez, Elk Grove's 6-foot-4, 235-pound slugger who usually attracts plenty of scouts, blasted a sixth-inning home run that sailed over the right-field berm. The junior then closed out the victory on the mound.

"I'll never forget it," Tellez said of his moment in the rain.

"Phenomenal what Rowdy did in those conditions, and what a great place to hit it," Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson said. "He hit a bomb. Raindrops coming down, tie game. It was a big-time shot, a tape-measure shot. It's awesome for the kids to get on that (field), to play in a park of that caliber."

The River Cats do not charge high school teams to play at Raley. Teams are handed 500 vouchers, good for any of the River Cats' 72 home games at $5 less than face value. Programs can sell those vouchers at face value as a fundraiser.

Fans can attend the prep games for a can't-beat price – admission and parking are free. All told, you cannot beat the value of the venue.

"We love to help out the local schools," River Cats community relations director Tony Asaro said. "Some raffle off a suite to a game here at their team dinners. I had a parent come up to me after a high school game here, saying, 'I want to thank you. You spoke to our kids years ago, and here we are again.' We have some high school kids out here who ran these bases during a River Cats game as Little Leaguers. It's all about fun."

Asaro said there is discussion to have Sacramento State and UC Davis games at Raley, perhaps against Cal and Stanford.

"We want as many games here as we can get because you can't beat Raley Field," Asaro said.

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