STOCKTON From a 1-5 season start, to a season of promise, to the final day of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, this turnaround baseball season surely will be remembered for years to come at Franklin High School.
The Wildcats kept that theme in mind in digesting an otherwise difficult day, falling to state power St. Mary's 8-2 in Game 2 of the Division I best-of-three series Saturday afternoon at Pacific.
In taking the series 2-0, the Rams of Stockton celebrated a three-peat, joining Elk Grove (2005-07) as the only Division I teams to accomplish the feat.
St. Mary's took down traditional Sacramento-area powers Elk Grove (2010) and Jesuit (2011) for its previous two titles and won its third straight by beating section final newcomer Franklin.
Saturday, St. Mary's (27-6) was sharp, and Franklin (22-12) was not.
The young Wildcats used three pitchers, made four errors, managed two hits through six innings (four total hits) and were a step slow against a senior-dominated Rams team that played one of the West Coast's most demanding schedules.
Gio Brusa, the lone starter on the Rams' three title teams, had two hits and four RBIs.
"Great team," Franklin first-year coach Bryan Kilby said of the Rams. "They battled all day and did the little things, and we didn't. We can't hang our heads. We've got a nice group. We battled all year. It wasn't our day.
"Four errors is very uncharacteristic for us. But we had a great season."
Franklin trailed 2-1 through three innings, but St. Mary's scored a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth for a 6-1 lead.
Franklin placed third in the Delta Valley Conference behind Davis and Elk Grove, then beat those teams in the D-I North postseason, in addition to eliminating then-Bee No. 1 Pleasant Grove with an 11-5 victory.
Of the 25 players in the Franklin dugout Saturday, 20 will return. Those bidding farewell include senior pitchers Josh Pigg, Kyle Von Ruden and Brandon Keup.
An example of the Franklin drive and resolve comes from its youngest starter.
Hank LoForte, the freshman shortstop and leadoff hitter, spent three early-morning hours at a hospital with a stomach ailment but insisted on playing.
LoForte will return with starters Tyler Blake, Kyle Zanzi, Ryan Sarginson, Nick Frei and Connor Adams.