Devon Golden looks to his grandparents as sources of deep-rooted family pride and inspiration.
His grandfather, Gaylord Lovell, was a Vietnam veteran, powerful in reflection, and grandmother Judy Lovell a baseball purist, sweet in appreciation.
Golden on Saturday had both in mind as he tossed seven innings of six-hit ball, striking out seven and allowing an earned run, and good pal Bret Sundberg ripped a solo home run in the fourth inning to highlight Sierra College’s 6-4 victory over College of Sequoias in Game 2 of a Northern California Super Regional in Rocklin.
Golden moved to 6-2 on the season and 7-0 on Saturday afternoons in his career with the Wolverines as Sierra evened the series 1-1. The deciding contest is Sunday at noon with Sierra (24-16) looking for the program’s fourth Super Regional title since 2006 and second in three seasons. Sierra eliminated the Giants (30-10) of Visalia last season in an opening-round NorCal series.
Judy Lovell attended the game and braved gusty wind while soaking in compliments on her grandson’s effort. Gaylord Lovell died of respiratory failure on March 1, but Golden said he was with him on the mound in spirit.
“He wasn’t able to watch me pitch this year, but I could see his excitement every time I came home to tell him what happened,” Golden said. “I did this for both of them.”
Sierra lost 4-2 in Game 1 on Friday as Sequoias ace Dylan Lee improved to 13-0. Sierra coach Rob Willsonsaid Golden gave the Wolverines a Lee-like effort with the season on the brink.
“Every third game of a series this year, Golden’s been phenomenal,” Willson said. “He had his change and breaking ball working, and he was very good.”
So was the swing of Sundberg, who crushed a solo shot over the 375-foot sign in center, prompting Golden to say later, “We really needed it. That helped.”
It helped because Sequoias pounced after Golden departed, cutting its deficit to 6-4 in the eighth on a Dillon Kelley three-run homer. Sierra reliever Jacob Gomez came in and pitched two shutout innings to extend the season.
Sundberg filled in much of the season at shortstop in place of hobbled starter Dustin Vaught (hamstring). Vaught is back, adding punch and leadership as the No. 3 hitter (he scored a run). Sundberg had three hits, scored three runs and drove in two, and Kyle Dixon, Josh Robinson and Ethan Liddle each had an RBI.
Sierra first baseman Dalton Blaser is the co-MVP of the Big 8 Conference, though Willson said Sundberg has been MVP-worthy, too.
“He’s been incredible,” Willson said, adding Tyler Milani will start Game 3.
The game was delayed 30 minutes after plate umpire Bryan Rose went down. Long regarded as one of the region’s finest umpires, the Sacramento native had a fastball glance off the catcher’s mitt and into his neck and chin, and he was on all fours for several moments.
Rose attempted to stick it out but pulled himself out after another at-bat after experiencing dizziness. He said he would be good to go today.
Sierra 7, Solano 6 – Kalyn Paque belted a two-run homer and Carly Evans had a three-run triple to power the Wolverines past the second-seeded Falcons (39-3) and into the championship game today in a NorCal Super Regional in Fairfield.
Sierra (39-4), seeking its sixth Super Regional title and sixth state final four berth under coach Darci Brownell, would have to lose twice to be eliminated.
Paque, the team ace with a 19-1 record, stepped in as the designated hitter when she homered. Jordan Becker earned the win in relief for the Wolverines.
Delta 11, Sacramento City 9 – The fourth-seeded Panthers (31-14) lost to the fifth-seeded Mustangs (32-13) after advancing to the losers’ bracket final with a 12-7 victory over Ohlone (28-14) of Fremont. Delta, a Big 8 rival of Sac City, will play top seed and Super Regional host San Mateo (41-2) for the title today.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.