There is a considerable thorn in the side of the Pleasant Grove High School baseball program.
For the third consecutive season, the Franklin Wildcats bounced the Eagles from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North playoffs at Sacramento City College. On Thursday night at Sacramento City College, the Wildcats delivered a 6-5 stunner to snap a 12-game winning streak for The Bee No. 2-ranked Eagles.
“Makes it fun, and just go out and play,” Franklin coach Bryan Kilby said before the game. He was giddy after the game in congratulating his plucky group.
If history is a guide, this is a good omen for the Wildcats, ranked fifth by The Bee after placing third in the wildly competitive Delta Valley Conference to top-ranked Elk Grove and No. 3 Davis. Two years ago, Pleasant Grove won the D-I North title, and it returned to the final last season, falling to Elk Grove, which went on to win the overall championship.
And the DVC continued to flex its considerable muscle here, moving to 5-0 in the playoffs with three of the four remaining teams still in it, along with Rocklin, as the tournament now goes into a double-elimination format. Franklin and Davis play Saturday at Sac City, and Elk Grove takes on Rocklin.
Damien Chavez had a two-run triple for a 4-1 lead in the fifth, and Zach Tresemer drove in a run for a 6-1 lead for the Wildcats (20-9). Tresemer, a sophomore, also earned the victory, the biggest of his life.
Hank LoForte had two hits and was gutty in relief as a pitcher, adding to the argument that he’s one of the state’s elite talents and ultimate competitors. LoForte, a junior committed to Fullerton, threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth from his shortstop spot, and he struck out two in the sixth.
Ace Cameron Keup recorded the final out on one pitch for the save after beating Del Oro 4-1 in a Monday opener, and the Wildcats threw their gloves into the air to celebrate.
Gabe Abelia drove in two runs for Franklin. Matt Stafford and Jordan Yu each had two RBIs for Pleasant Grove (21-5).
Davis 10, Vacaville 3 – The Blue Devils weren’t about to call it a season in facing an extra twinge of urgency beyond this being a single-elimination contest.
That Davis’ longtime coach, Dan Ariola, had to sit this one out, per CIF carry-over ejection rules from a 2-1 opening win over Granite Bay, served as plenty of motivation. No worries here as son John Ariola, the center fielder and leadoff hitter, led the charge with two hits and two runs as the top of the order devastated the Monticello Empire League champion Bulldogs.
Brett Bloomfield, Ryan Kreidler and Trey Golston – the No. 2, 3 and 5 hitters, respectively – combined for eight hits and six runs. Bloomfield also earned the win with 52/3 innings of solid work, allowing one run. Vacaville had six of its seven erors in the sixth as Davis broke it open with four runs.
Coach Ariola, in shorts and a T-shirt, heaped praise on his team and fill-in coach Marc Kenner after the game. And then the old coach grinned, joking that it really might’ve been him in that construction vehicle lift just beyond the left-field fence.
“Yep, had the hard hat and everything,” Ariola cracked. “Great win for the kids.”
Kenner agreed. He felt the pressure. Like Ariola, this is his school, having graduated in 1993.
“The kids really battled, and oh my gosh, we couldn’t let this be John and Dan Ariola’s last stand,” Kenner said.
Said John Ariola, “Coach told us to just play, and we did. We’re rolling. Everyone stepped up big.”