The last man to join the postgame team picture was the coach.
Nelson Randolph didn’t know what to do on the Sacramento City College infield, which was about as hot as the sun Monday afternoon. Stand at the end of the group with the coaches? Belly up next to the seniors?
He couldn’t decide, so Randolph did the next best thing. He dived to the turf, in front of the team, and the cheering escalated.
We really came together this season. (Coach) Nelson Randolph is the backbone of this team. It all starts with him.
Capital Christian senior Tiegen Jones
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“Oh, a painful dive, but good pain,” said Randolph, feeling his 58 years but acting much younger with good cheer after his Capital Christian High School baseball team beat Linden 8-0 for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V four-peat.
Marques Buford scattered five hits and struck out five in capping his senior season with a 9-0 record and another blue championship banner.
The Cougars, playing stellar defense, led 7-0 after three innings. Sophomore leadoff hitter Brett Graber had three hits and a walk in the game, and freshman outfielder-pitcher Xavier Carter drove in two runs.
Expect more success, because Capital Christian has a host of players coming back. This small school off Highway 50 opened in 1977, so off the sporting radar in the early days that the basketball teams played on a carpeted floor. The Cougars won 10 section crowns in all sports from 1977 to 2009.
Capital Christian now is a small-school power across the board, winning a remarkable 25 section titles since 2010.
The galvanizing force in baseball has been Randolph, who has five titles to his credit. When Randolph had a chance to add two iconic regional coaches this season to his staff, he pounced. In came Guy Anderson, the winningest prep coach in Northern California history while at Cordova, and Ralph Rago, who has coached at Davis, UC Davis and overseas. Anderson and Rago, both in their mid-80s, also don’t act their age, bounding from one station to another.
It was Anderson’s first section title moment since he won his fourth banner at Cordova in 1987. Anderson was not retained by Cordova after last season, a move that jolted him. Capital Christian restored his joy.
“Coaches get old, but winning never gets old, and what a thrill it’s been for Ralph and me to experience this with such a great group,” Anderson said.
A moment later, senior catcher Jaylund Johnson bear-hugged Anderson. Johnson’s father, Isaac Johnson, was a key player for Anderson’s section championship teams at Cordova in 1982 and ’83.
Senior cornerstones Buford, Johnson, Tiegen Jones and A.J. Mendoza took a group shot, not wanting their run to end. Jones has seven section patches,three from basketball. He is headed to Fresno State to pitch on scholarship.
25 Section titles in all sports won by Capital Christian since 2010
“We really came together this season,” Jones said. “Nelson Randolph is the backbone of this team. It all starts with him.”
Valley Christian 6, Big Valley Christian 1 – The Lions of Roseville scored three runs each in the first and sixth innings, and ace Corey Cater threw a four-hitter for the program’s seventh D-VII championship in nine title-game appearances.
In the first inning, Donovan Gonzalez had a two-run single and Collin Andrews a run-scoring single to make it 3-0, and it was smooth sailing from there.
The leader of this pack is coach Brad Gunter Jr., a bearded fellow who is big on effort and exudes charm, class and spirit. He so enjoys doing this that the Lions commonly work on dog-pile celebrations at the season’s final practice.
“Why not, right? Have fun,” Gunter said.
Benicia 8, Bella Vista 4 – Sophomore shortstop Joey Daini drove in three runs and Steve Urias two to power the Panthers to their second D-II championship in three seasons and third since 2011.
Matt Dethlefson had a two-run single in the first inning for Bella Vista, playing in its first section final since the 2007 D-III tournament.