Sometimes it takes a loss, or two, to jar the senses.
Oak Ridge High School baseball can speak of such experience. The Trojans had their hopes of an unbeaten run through the Sierra Foothill League dashed by two late-season losses to Folsom and then vowed to do something about it.
On Thursday night, Oak Ridge looked the part of motivated and talent-laden top seed, eliminating defending champion Davis 9-0 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division North I contest at Sacramento City College.
The Trojans were crisp in their efficient dismantling of the Blue Devils on a bitterly cold night that made it feel more like Candlestick Park than mid-May conditions.
Never miss a local story.
Oak Ridge (24-4) scored three runs in each of the first, fifth and sixth innings, collecting 16 hits total, and ace Ryan Sullivan moved to 5-1 with 52/3 innings of two-hit ball, striking out seven.
The Trojans jumped on Kris Prince, who was masterful in his only two starts last season in winning the D-I North and overall section titles.
Logan Denholm belted a three-run double for a 3-0 lead, and Patrick Smith smacked a two-run double to make it 5-0, launching Oak Ridge into a Saturday meeting with Vintage at Union Stadium.
Leadoff hitter Chris Roppolo had two hits and two runs for Oak Ridge, which spent a good part of this season top-ranked by The Bee. Also for the Trojans, Denholm had three hits, three RBIs and two runs, Smith had two doubles and three RBIs and Jake Hathaway had two hits.
Davis (16-13) won big games in Delta League play against Elk Grove and Jesuit (twice) to reach the postseason, where it bounced Rocklin in a Monday opener. With a host of new players and with standout shortstop Ryan Kreidler out for all but one game with a wrist injury, the Blue Devils salvaged quite a season, a credit to leaders such as Drew Gnos and longtime coach Dan Ariola.
For Oak Ridge, the goal is to win what Davis collected last season: that blue banner. The Trojans have won league titles and playoff games but not a section championship, reaching the D-III finals in 1986 and the D-II finals in 1997.
Vintage 5, Franklin 3 – Two Cal-bound stars flexed their muscle Thursday afternoon and survived to see another day.
In delivering a 1-2 punch from the mound and the plate, the Crushers of Napa eliminated Franklin of Elk Grove in a Division I game at Union Stadium.
Jared Horn belted a towering solo home run in the second inning, and Aaron Shortridge struck out the side twice and fanned eight overall for Vintage, winner of the Monticello Empire League.
A junior, Horn’s blast was his third of the season and it highlighted a nine-hit attack for the Crushers, who advanced to the double-elimination phase of this event for the first time since 1999.
Shortridge, the senior ace also headed to Cal, moved to 6-2.
Of Horn’s homer, Vintage coach Rich Anderson said, “It’s the farthest I’ve seen a home run with the new bats.” And of Shortridge, the longtime coach said, “We have a ton of confidence when he pitches. He’s been in so many close games and is battle-tested.”
Damien Chavez, Jordan Estes and Zach Tresemer each drove in a run for Franklin (22-7), which tied Jesuit and Elk Grove for the Delta League championship. The loss marked the end of a stellar four-year career for Hank LoForte, the Wildcats’ gritty and spirited leadoff hitter who has a host of school career records. LoForte will play next season at Cal State Fullerton on scholarship.
Juan Lopez, Gabe Reyes, Jacob MacNichols and Joe Canepa joined Horn with an RBI for Vintage (23-5), which scored twice in the third inning and twice in the fourth.