This is their last stand in high school, the final leg of a formative chapter in a baseball journey that has afforded them trips and tales most teenagers can't fathom.
It started for Dom Nunez and Rowdy Tellez when they were in tee ball, little guys wielding big bats with beyond-their-years instincts. This game now places the Elk Grove High School senior anchors on the cusp of prestige and uncertainty.
Nunez and Tellez may become the highest drafted area prospects in next month's major league draft. Draft reports and scouts who flock to their games armed with stopwatches, notepads, briefcases and wrap-around shades have Nunez, a catcher, and Tellez, a left-hander power hitter, going as high as the top three rounds. As much as all of this delights the best of pals it's every ballplayer's dream to get drafted Nunez and Tellez talk more of capping their Thundering Herd campaigns in championship style. Elk Grove starts Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North play today at home against Vintage of Napa, needing a victory to advance to the next round at Sacramento City College.
A 5-0 playoff showing would reward the duo with their second North title and 100th career victory. Tellez is batting .458 with 13 doubles, six home runs and 33 RBIs. He has 24 career homers, some of the wow variety, and 164 career RBIs, the most in section history and second-most in Northern California history, according to Cal-Hi Sports. Nunez is batting .397 with 31 RBIs.
"We're definitely excited about the playoffs," Nunez said. "We never thought we'd be seniors and this day would come."
Said Tellez, "It was always someone else's time the previous three years here, the other seniors. Now it's our time, for all of us. Can't wait."
Nunez and Tellez form as potent a 1-2 punch in skill, tenacity and leadership pride as you'll find.
"Great players, great leaders and great examples," Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson said.
Said Davis junior star Matt Trask, "Tellez scares you just from looking at him, and Dom is just smooth, a different type of scary."
Said Joey Davis, a scout for the Phillies, "They're both really advanced, and they come from a great program with a coach who teaches the game. Very impressive players."
If they don't go pro, they can go to the Pacific-12 Conference. Nunez has signed with UCLA and Tellez with USC.
Tellez has prodigious power and looks the part of cool slugger in the batter's box at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, working his gum and the count. Lauded for being a patient hitter, Tellez annihilates the ball.
He won a national home run derby in a showcase last summer, delivering moon shots into the upper deck at the Metrodome in Minnesota. He hit two homers over the scoreboard at Blair Field in Long Beach last fall.
And the ball he crushed over the center-field fence at Grant earlier this spring landed on the mound of the junior varsity diamond, seemingly a mile away. That left scouts to offer raised eyebrows, one muttering, "My God."
Last season, Tellez hit a bomb in a light rain at Raley Field that cleared the right-field berm. It all sounds like the stuff of legend, but it all happened.
"Tellez has big power, and his shots are majestic, tape-measure ones," Davis said. "He has a burning desire to play pro ball."
So does Nunez, a muscled 6-foot-1, 185-pounder. Nunez was a lifelong shortstop who made the move to catcher this season to help his team and enhance his profile. He played various positions on showcase USA Baseball travel teams that won gold medals in 2011 in Mexico and last fall in South Korea.
One scout said Nunez "is the best high school catcher on the West Coast."
Said Davis, "Dom's baseball instincts are off the charts."
Nunez and Tellez, friends since they were 10, are affable out of uniform and intense in action. Some might suggest they play dirty. The seniors scoff at this notion, with Nunez insisting that, "Playing hard is not playing dirty."
Tellez revels in the story of how he got the name "Rowdy." His given name is Ryan. He was so rowdy early, kicking and moving while still in the womb, that the nickname became his preferred name. Tellez said he relaxes from the rigors of the game by hunting.
"You name it, duck, pheasant," he said.
Nunez, one known to protect the plate, offered, "I like to go to Rowdy's house and steal his meat, his hunt."