That smack in the mouth to jar the senses and shake the cobwebs? Well-received and noted.
Facing elimination in a season no one in Sierra College colors was quite ready to concede, the plucky Wolverines won twice Saturday to stave off elimination in a Northern California Baseball Super Regional. Sierra, top-ranked in NorCal and 10th nationally, remained alive with efforts at two ballparks in two counties spanning nearly eight hours.
The Wolverines (33-8) opened with a 6-2 victory over Fresno City at Sacramento City College and capped an exhaustive yet rewarding day back home in Rocklin with a 5-3 win over Cabrillo, which had thrust the tournament favorite into the losers' bracket Friday.
That 8-4 loss to Cabrillo felt like a wallop to the face, Sierra players and coaches said. They vowed to fight back.
"We responded," Sierra coach Ryan Evangelho said. "(Today) we'll play loosey-goosey and have fun."
Sierra entered Saturday needing to win four consecutive games to claim the program's fourth Super Regional title since 2008. Halfway there, the Wolverines must twice defeat Feather River, which is unbeaten in the Super Regional, today at Sierra to advance to the state tournament. The first game is at 11 a.m.
The Wolverines eliminated Fresno City behind a five-run seventh inning, highlighted by Sean Sundberg's two-run triple. Matt Fielding pitched a complete-game seven-hitter, allowing one earned run, to improve to 7-3.
Sierra then ousted Cabrillo as Dalton Blaser had three hits and two RBIs, and Jake Riffice, Mikey Nantze and Sundberg each had an RBI.
Tanner McVey threw 7 2/3 innings of three-hit ball for Sierra, allowing no runs and striking out five.
Sierra 7, Fresno City 5 Tayanna Mata hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning for the Wolverines, who bounced back from a 4-3 Super Regional loss to Shasta earlier in the day in Redding.
Sierra has a shot at redemption, playing Shasta at noon today and needing to beat the Knights twice to win the Super Regional and reach the state tournament.
Track and field
The host American River College men won their third straight Northern California championship and fourth in the last five years.
The Beavers finished with 128 points, followed by Butte with 108.5. Sacramento City College was sixth with 63.
ARC's Luis Luna won the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9 minutes, 31.85 seconds) and finished second in the 5,000 meters to teammate Will Reyes, who won in 15:05.55. The 1-2 finish in the 5,000 allowed the Beavers to erase a nine-point deficit to Butte and clinch the title with two events left.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the state meet Friday and Saturday at College of San Mateo.
SCC's Jesse White advanced with a second-place finish in the 400 (47.18) and a third-place finish in the 200 (21.54). The Panthers' 4x400 relay team placed second to College of the Sequoias, clocking 3:12.29.
Laney won the women's title with 127 points. ARC was fourth with 86.3, and SCC was fifth with 86.
ARC's Hannah Hardy, who last month won the NorCal heptathlon, added victories in the long jump (18 feet, 10 1/2 inches) and triple jump (38-3 1/4).
ARC's 4x100 relay team of Hardy, Olivia Brown, Holly Miller and Alexis Browner finished second to Laney in a school-record 45.98 seconds. Browner also set a personal best in the 200, coming in second in 23.86 seconds.
SCC's Molly Marshall finished second in the high jump (5-1 3/4) and fourth in the javelin (116-9).