Scott Seffens has coached long enough to understand what really works in high school baseball.
Don’t walk batters, and don’t boot the ball when it’s put in play.
“I have learned that is what it’s all about,” said the veteran Vista del Lago coach, whose team is 26-5. “We haven’t had a Division I-recruit pitcher, but we have done a good job with what we have.”
The Eagles, who play Manteca (24-3) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game on Monday at 6 p.m. at Zupo Field in Lodi, have a lineup of gritty overachievers and sound pitchers. Andrew Schantz (9-0)heads a staff that includes Mike Majeski (6-4) and Tyler Kaim (6-1).
And Schantz has pop in his swing. The senior, batting .387, hit a two-run home run and tossed a three-hitter to help beat Sierra of Manteca and lock up a best-of-three playoff series last week. Schantz will take the mound today against Manteca, which will go with Lucas Vaughn (11-0) or Oregon-bound Jake Corn (7-2).
Vista has won 101 games in five years and 71 over three seasons. Win No. 100 was a 7-6 victory over four-time defending section champion Oakdale, which beat the Eagles in the previous two postseasons.
Schantz, the Sierra Valley Conference Player of the Year, will compete at new Folsom Lake College next season. Schantz, Nick Schumacher and Jacob Jones have played well offensively, Seffens said, and the team has been boosted by the return of infielder Josh Pfeffer, who suffered a knee injury early last fall as a running back. Catcher Jacob Winkler also is healthy after missing last season because of torn shoulder cartilage.
Seffens calls Majeski, who also plays outfield, “our rock.”
Falcons fly – Christian Brothers, seeking its first postseason tournament title since 1988, plays Benicia on Monday at 6 p.m. at Sacramento City College in the Division II championship game. The Falcons (24-6) will start Steven Talbert (10-1), who has won 10 consecutive games with four shutouts and has a 0.99 ERA.
Outfielder Brendan Gormley is batting .372 wth 34 runs and 21 stolen bases. Lucas Still is batting .383 with 22 RBIs, and he’s 7-2 with a 1.58 ERA.
Benicia (26-5) is led by Fred Williams (.372, 25 RBIs) and pitchers Matt Brown (9-1) and Steven Daini (7-1).
Unsung teams – The Division III championship game between Pioneer and Lincoln on Monday at 3 p.m. at Sac City features teams that got hot down the stretch. Neither won a league title, and neither had reached a section title game.
Pioneer (17-13) was third in the Tri-County Conference at 8-7 behind Yuba City and River Valley. The Patriots lost twice to River Valley in league play but beat the Falcons two games to one to advance. Pioneer, led by Brandon Medina (.378) and Justin Dye (.364), will start Andrew Fuentes on Monday .
Lincoln (14-14-1) was third in the Pioneer Valley League. After splitting with PVL champion Colfax in conference play, the Zebras beat their longtime rival 12-5 and 5-3 to win a best-of-three series. Jake Sola is 8-3 with a .333 batting average and 23 RBIs, and Isaiah Garcia is batting .495.
Young and older – With a mix of seniors and underclassmen, Capital Christian (24-5) will defend its Division V title against Golden Empire League rival Lindhurst (15-9) at noon on Monday at Sac City.
Texas-bound senior Tyler Schimpf is 7-1 with a .360 batting average and 32 RBIs. Senior Dom Munoz (.377) hit a towering home run at spacious Billy Hebert Field in Stockton during a 10-0 semifinal win over Argonaut. Senior Peter Sprague (.377), junior Blair Lewis (.356) and sophomores Tiegen Jones (.373) and Jaylund Johnson (.368) have played well for the Cougars.
Freshman Jake Norville, who led the football team into the playoffs, is batting .343 with a 4-1 record as a starter and closer. He earned saves in 4-0 and 5-1 wins over Lindhurst in GEL play, as Jones and Schimpf earned the wins.
“He’s phenomenal,” Schimpf said of Norville. “He’s my wingman. He’s very driven. Love to see that.”
Lindhurst tied West Campus and Dixon for second in the GEL behind Capital Christian and beat Dixon 13-12 and 3-2 in a best-of-three playoff series. Andrew Sutton earned the win in the second game.
Chris Sisco will start against Schimpf today.
Prideful showing – Bradshaw Christian (21-9) goes for a Division VI repeat and the program’s third title since 2011 when it plays Sierra Delta League rival Vacaville Christian (21-8-1) on Monday at 3 p.m. at Zupo Field.
Grant Heisinger (.493), Grant Dragmire (.429), Zach Rogers (.426) and Seth Vandergrift (.387) lead the Pride, which beat Vacaville Christian 7-2 and 4-1 during the league season.
Fear the beard – Valley Christian of Roseville (22-8) goes for a Division VII four-peat, and superstitious coach Brad Gunter Jr. is aiming for his sixth title since 2008 with a hearty, chest-length beard that won’t be trimmed as long as the titles keep coming. Sacramento State-bound Jeremiah Moore will start against Millennium of Tracy (21-3) and Manjot Atwal (10-1). Moore is 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA, and he’s batting .487 with 29 RBIs. Micah Gunter, the coach’s son, is batting .392 with 31 RBIs.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.