Administrators at Cosumnes River College are planning a gift for Tony Bloomfield.
What to give their baseball coach, who didn't have the luxury of a single home practice or game yet still won the Big 8 Conference?
A GPS? A Thomas Guide? A compass? Gas money and a reassuring hug?
"Maybe all of that," CRC athletic director Liz Belyea said with a laugh. "We were thinking a sandbag, too, for all the rained-out games."
The Hawks were true road warriors this season, packing vehicles and trucking from location to location for practices and games. CRC's baseball field as well as other sports facilities is being upgraded, rendering the Hawks homeless. CRC will hit the freeway again this weekend when it will play "home games" at American River in the first round of the Northern California Regional best-of-three playoffs against College of the Sequoias.
All by a team with a relatively small roster of 19 players who overcame a 2-5 start in conference and warded off Big 8 Conference rivals Sacramento City and Sierra.
"We get on the buses and go," Bloomfield said. "We've got a unique group. Our kids could've quit. It's not easy doing everything away from campus. We have exceptional intestinal fortitude."
Bloomfield said the daily tease of walking past the new baseball facility under construction will pay off next season. For now, Bloomfield said he has a club that could make a state-title run. Practices have been held at Sheldon High School or, on rainy days, on the second level of the CRC gym with the batting cages.
CRC brought to Sheldon its own infield tarps, infield dirt mix and mowers to doctor the field. CRC practiced no more than 90 minutes per session because Sheldon also needed to use the field.
"Oh, my goodness, I can't tell you how impressed I am with the entire team," Belyea said. "Not one complaint from any of those players or coaches. I don't know if Bloomfield goes home and complains to his wife."
No complaints at the Bloomfield home in Davis, only a team pool party to celebrate the Big 8 title.
CRC is led by pitcher Austin Ales with an 8-2 record and four saves, and shortstop Josh Silver , who is hitting .312 with 21 RBIs. Silver, who prepped at Franklin in Elk Grove, played at San Jose State in 2009 before taking a two-year break from baseball.
"Silver has really turned the corner," Bloomfield said. "He's an exceptional catch-and-throw player, the best I've had here."
CRC also has had nice pitching from Nick Smart (2.40 ERA) and Blake Harrison (2.40). Jake Schu (.315 batting average), Phillip Roa (team-high 22 RBIs), Bryan Case (19 RBIs), Colby Brenner and Shawn Wheeler (14 RBIs each) have provided offense.
Sac City, which has reached the playoffs every season since 1976, opens its best-of-three series Saturday at top-seeded Feather River. Sierra, the state champ in 2008, opens at Laney of Oakland.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Best of three
Cosumnes River vs. College of the Sequoias at American River
Game 1: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, 11 a.m.
Game 3: Sunday, 3 p.m.