High School Sports

Franklin baseball playing beyond its years in Delta League race

“The guys have been great,” said Franklin baseball coach Bryan Kilby of his 2017 team.
“The guys have been great,” said Franklin baseball coach Bryan Kilby of his 2017 team. Sacramento Bee file

Bryan Kilby anticipated a competitive baseball team this spring, but this has exceeded expectations.

And the Franklin Wildcats are just getting warmed up.

Kilby, in his sixth season as head coach, is beaming at a 9-game winning streak that included a 5-0 run in the Fresno Easter Tournament followed by Delta League wins over rivals Pleasant Grove (4-1) and previously Bee-ranked No. 2 Elk Grove 5-3 and 9-7. That’s the first sweep of the storied Thundering Herd, winners of the last two Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships, in Franklin’s 13-year history.

The Wildcats are top-ranked by The Bee for just the second time, a spot ahead of Oak Ridge, which Franklin beat 5-2 last month. Franklin is 5-0 in league play entering Monday’s rain-makeup contest against Pleasant Grove.

“The guys have been great,” Kilby said, adding that his staff deserves credit, too, including right-hand man Mike Cody, who headed the program for the first seven seasons and has assisted Kilby the last six.

Franklin’s leading hitters are seniors Nate Thimjon (.404 average), Kyler Johnson (.409) and D.J. Smith (.383). The team’s leading pitchers will return next season. Junior Evan Gibbons is 4-1, sophomore Zach Meddings 3-0, sophomore Grant Stevens 3-2 and junior Stuart Davies is 2-0. Stevens beat Pleasant Grove 4-1 and Gibbons earned the 5-3 win against Elk Grove. Thimjon, headed to Fresno State, had a bases-clearing double to spark a four-run sixth inning in the 9-7 Elk Grove victory with Nico Regino producing three RBIs.

▪ SFL showdown: No. 2 Oak Ridge and No. 3 Granite Bay play three times this week. Oak Ridge entered the week 9-0 in SFL play and Granite Bay 7-2.

Two of the top pitchers in the state won’t face each other, however. Oak Ridge’s Trent Denholm (4-1) will start Tuesday’s game and and Granite Bay’s Darren Nelson (5-0) will take the mound on either Thursday or Friday.

The 6-foot-7 Nelson is considered this region’s No. 1 draft prospect this spring, though he has signed on with Cal Poly, where his sister, Taylor, is on the volleyball team. Taylor Nelson was the setter for Granite Bay’s 45-0 CIF State Division I championship volleyball team.

Denholm is also a draft prospect, and he has signed with UC Irvine.

“Should be a very fun series,” Denholm said. “A lot of talent between the two teams.”

▪ Milestone win: In his 11th season, El Dorado baseball coach Rusty McDonald won his 200th game on Saturday, an 11-1 triumph of Calaveras. James Pizzuti drove in four runs and Hunter Susmill tossed a two-hitter for the Cougars, who are in second place in the Sierra Valley Conference behind Liberty Ranch. El Dorado will celebrate the milestone after Wednesday’s home game against Rosemont.

▪ Softball: A busy week saw local powerhouses duke it out.

Sheldon remains top ranked by The Bee after another tight one against No. 2 Elk Grove. Sheldon won 5-4 Thursday to even the season series at 1-1 in the Delta League race.

Elk Grove recovered with a 4-0 showing in Tracy’s NorCal Classic Tournament, including a 2-1 win over Bee No. 4 Del Oro on Saturday.

Other ranked teams met in local tournament play. Vista del Lago broke into the Bee’s Top 5 with its performance in last week’s Stephanie LeDoux Tournament in Roseville, beating Christian Brothers and host Woodcreek before losing 5-2 to Oak Ridge.

The LeDoux Tournament played host to plenty of ranked action. Oak Ridge’s 4-0 run extended the Trojans’ win streak to nine games. Roseville entered the Top 20 after going 3-1 in the tournament, beating Casa Roble 1-0.

▪ Yuba City’s collective ERA of 0.76 ranks 20th in the state. It is the only ERA below 1.00 among local teams.

The Bee’s Mike McGough contributed to this report.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

THE BEE’S BASEBALL RANKINGS

Records through Sunday, last week in parentheses

1. Franklin (4) 13-4-1

2. Oak Ridge (3) 13-4

3. Granite Bay (9) 12-4-1

4. Davis (1) 15-4 LOST GB

5. Elk Grove (2) 8-9

6. Christian Brothers (6) 15-1

7. Del Oro (7) 12-8

8. Jesuit (8) 7-8

9. Pleasant Grove (4)

10. Vista del Lago (10) 11-6

11. Capital Christian (11) 17-3

12. Lincoln (12) 14-6

13. Oakmont (13) 13-8

14. Del Campo (17) 13-7

15. Sheldon (14) 9-10

16. Liberty Ranch (15) 16-5

17. Yuba City (18) 13-8

18. River Valley (19) 12-8

19. Whitney (20) 13-8

20. Laguna Creek (-) 13-6

Joe Davidson

THE BEE’S SOFTBALL RANKINGS

Records through Sunday, last week in parentheses

1. Sheldon (1) 17-1

2. Elk Grove (2) 17-3

3. Del Campo (3) 17-5

4. Del Oro (4) 15-4-1

5. Vista del Lago (6) 14-6

6. Casa Roble (7) 15-5

7. Rocklin (5) 9-7-1

8. Oak Ridge (12) 13-4

9. Pioneer (8) 12-4-1

10. Yuba City (9) 14-3-1

11. River City (10) 11-3-1

12. Whitney (14) 13-7

13. Lincoln (11) 13-5-1

14. Christian Brothers (13) 13-5-1

15. Bella Vista (15) 14-5

16. Granite Bay (16) 10-7

17. Roseville (-) 14-6

18. Kennedy (17) 15-4

19. Woodcreek (18) 11-9

20. Pleasant Grove (20) 13-7

Mike McGough

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