Momentum counts only if it continues.
So say the coaches whose red-hot baseball teams are in the Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoffs that started Monday with out-bracket games and resume Wednesday.
Top-ranked Elk Grove has won 17 consecutive games, including two wins each over rivals No. 3 Davis and No. 5 Franklin to lock up the Delta Valley Conference title. Looming on the opposite side of the Division I bracket is No. 2 Pleasant Grove, winner of 12 in a row.
Both teams are solidified by standout pitching and defense. Elk Grove (22-4) is paced by junior pitchers Chris Martin (5-2, 0.76 ERA), and Ty Madrigal (3-0), senior Cody Barnes (5-0, 1.83 ERA) and sophomore Austin Del Chiaro (6-1, 1.27). Pleasant Grove (21-4) repeated as Delta River League champion with a staff – led by junior Dalton Gomez (6-1, 1.37 ERA) and seniors Brett Elgin (6-1, 1.09), Matt Stafford (6-2, 2.12) and Jordan Yu (2-0, 0.71) – that produced a team ERA of 1.35.
“Our pitching has been great, and so has the defense, and it’s hard to lose when you’re doing that,” Pleasant Grove coach Rob Rinaldi said. “We’re also hitting well.”
Having won the Sierra Foothill League championship over rivals No. 7 Del Oro and No. 8 Granite Bay, sixth-ranked Rocklin has a first-round bye with Elk Grove, Pleasant Grove and Monticello Empire League champ Vacaville in the Division I North tournament at Sacramento City College. The Thunder is led by senior Logan Webb, who is batting .356 with 26 RBIs and has three wins on the mound with a 0.32 ERA.
Capital Valley Conference champion and No. 11 Christian Brothers (20-6) has the pitching staff to be considered the favorite in Lucas Still, Steven Talbert and Jim McCauley. Kennedy (14-10) won the Metropolitan Conference title for the first time since 1991 with Adam Takeuchi (4-1, 1.37 ERA, .388 average) playing a big role.
CVC members No. 15 Bella Vista (19-7) and No. 17 Oakmont (18-7-1) open Wednesday against Benicia (23-4) and McClatchy (12-11), respectively. McClatchy won its final seven Metro League games to get in.
No. 13 Yuba City (18-9) and No. 18 Colfax (18-5) head the field again after meeting last season for the section title, won by the Honkers for the fifth time since 2007. Both teams have standout shortstops, Devin Pettengill for Yuba City (.462) and Dave Campbell for Colfax (.532, six home runs).
Big Red, again – It’s been some season for Guy Anderson, the Cordova coach since 1970. He won his 900th career game this season – second most in prep history west of the Rocky Mountains – and won the Capital Athletic League. And he did it with sons of fathers who played for the Lancers in the glory days as No. 19 Cordova (17-10) looms as a dark horse.
Leadoff hitter Jerome Brown, one of the fastest players in the section, is the nephew of Kenny Bowles, an All-Metro player on the 1975 Cordova football team that remains the only regional team to finish ranked No. 1 in the country. Right fielder Brandon Buck’s father, Bill, was an All-Metro lineman in the 1980s. First baseman Nigel Robinson’s father, Rodney, was an All-Metro receiver for Cordova’s 1985 section title team that went 14-0. Nigel performed the national anthem on the violin before the final game of the regular season. Second baseman Jarrett Harris’ father, Tony, played on the 1982 Lancers team. Catcher Logan Appino’s father, Kevin, played football and baseball for the Lancers in the early 1980s.
Division IV – Sierra Valley Conference champion and No. 12 Vista del Lago (23-4) is the favorite behind pitchers Tyler Kaim (6-1, 1.30), Michael Majeski (6-3) and Andrew Schantz (7-0). No. 14 Cosumnes Oaks (19-8) has two SVC wins over Vista del Lago behind pitcher Donovan Palma (9-0, 0.84).
Division V – Golden Empire League champion and No. 20 Capital Christian (21-4) is the favorite to repeat, led by Tyler Schimpf (.360, 28 RBIs, 5-1, 1.64 ERA).
Division VI – Sierra Delta League champion Bradshaw Christian (17-8) looks to repeat behind Grant Heisinger (.492, 32 RBIs), Bryant Stone (.587) and pitcher Grant Dragmire (6-2).
Division VII – Sacramento Metro Athletic League champion Valley Christian (19-7) is the three-time defending champion and has won it five times in six years. The Lions of Roseville are led by Jeremiah Moore (.476, 5-3).
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.