It took two fields, 31 innings and a lot of mixed emotions for Yuba City and Colfax high schools to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game.
In the semifinals Wednesday at McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks at Sacramento State, the Honkers beat Lincoln twice to take the best-of-three series in dramatic walk-off fashion, winning Game 2 5-4 in eight innings and following with a 6-5 victory in Game 3 in nine innings to advance to the title game for the fifth time since 2007.
On the adjacent field, Colfax handed Whitney (28-3) more losses in a matter of hours than the Wildcats had had all season. The Falcons beat Whitney 10-2 and 8-5 to reach a title game for the second time.
Yuba City (20-11) and Colfax (20-7) play for the championship Monday at 3 p.m. at Sacramento City College.
Honkers ace and draft prospect Chandler Eden struck out 13 in 61/3 innings in Game 2 against Lincoln, and Damon Bugarin singled home Justin Peterson for the winning run. Bugarin started Game 3, going 52/3 innings before Nick Mora took over in relief. Hayden Mejia, who homered earlier, decided the game when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth.
Said Bugarin: "A weird way to win a game, but we did."
Eden said he will start Monday, possibly against Colfax ace Devon Loomis, who went six innings for the victory in the Game 2 rout of Whitney and pitched the first three innings of the decisive game. Colfax had 23 hits in the two victories, led by Dave Campbell's six hits and four RBIs.
The Falcons, a small-school power, particularly in football and basketball, are seeking their first section title in baseball. In their only title appearance, in 1999, they lost to Vanden 8-4.
Yuba City is dominated by seniors, with junior shortstop Devin Pettengill the lone underclassman in the lineup. Pettengill, who holds the school stolen-base record with 24, had four hits and two RBIs in Wednesday's sweep. He has a 4.1 grade-point average, taking honors classes in calculus, biology, history and English. Father Mick Pettengill was an All-City football player at Mira Loma in 1987 and uncle Tim Pettengill was an All-City catcher at La Sierra and Del Campo.
As the lone unbeaten team in the Division I North playoffs, Elk Grove has had some rest and time to check out other teams. Elk Grove is 4-0 in the postseason and last played Tuesday, when it beat Pleasant Grove.
Thundering Herd players and coaches watched the losers' bracket finale Thursday as Franklin beat Pleasant Grove 6-1. The Herd (26-5) plays Franklin today at 4 p.m. at Sacramento City College, looking for the program's ninth North title since 1990 and seventh since 2002 under coach Jeff Carlson.
Elk Grove will start senior Mikey Wright, who is 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA.
"I'm ready to go, excited," said Wright, who is headed to San Jose State.
Draft prospect Rowdy Tellez is batting .463 with 40 RBIs and eight home runs, including two towering shots in the playoffs. For all his star power, Tellez insists he is no better than fellow seniors such as Wright, ace David Smith or catcher Dom Nunez.
"They're all doing a great job," Tellez said. "We're nowhere without them."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed how many bases Devin Pettengill stole in setting a Yuba City High School record. The correct number of stolen bases is 24. This story was updated at 2:05 p.m. May 24.