High School Sports

Vacaville shows again why it’s the Sac-Joaquin Section’s top ‘Dog’ in baseball

The day started in Solano County at a favorite eatery of players and coaches, all decked in orange, white and black colors.

Then it ended some nine hours later, under a cloudy sky and unseasonably cool May conditions at Sacramento City College.

Playing the part of top seed, Vacaville High School beat second-seeded Jesuit 5-2 at Union Stadium on Monday evening to cap the Sac-Joaquin Section season as Division I champions.

It was an emphatic repeat showing for the Bulldogs, who finished with a 31-2 record and twice beat storied Jesuit, winners of five section banners, this week in capping a 5-0 tournament showing.

In the overflow stands, members of the Vacaville softball team cheered their classmates, days after the baseball guys watched those Bulldogs win a section D-II title. This has long been a school of champions, with success across the board over the decades, including football and wrestling.

For this Bulldogs baseball bunch, winning hits the heart and emotional chords. This is especially true for coach Stu Clary, a 1982 graduate of the school.

He likes to say, “We’re just a bunch of guys from North Vacaville.”

On Monday, the fifth-year coach and Bulldog for life said, “We got some rot-gut coffee, some burritos at Baldo’s Mexican Food, and got after it. There were no secrets between (the two teams). We all know each other. No surprises.”

David Rodriguez struck out five, walked one and gave up just a towering first-inning home run to Jesuit slugger Daniel Susac, a junior catcher who wields a wood bat and is committed to national powerhouse Oregon State.

Vacaville’s roster is dotted with college commitments as well, and it is a unit that is unified and close. Players live to play for Vacaville, and they crave to compete together.

Devereaux Harrison, a center fielder, is a third-generation Vacaville Bulldog. His mother is in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. He may get there, too. He had a hit and a run and recorded the final out in pitching relief, when the bases were loaded and the tensions high.

When it was over, players hurled their gloves into the sky and dog piled. No one wanted to leave, even as the sun set.

Division II

Oakmont 4, Del Campo 3 at American River College – Greg Nichols started on the mound and had the go-ahead RBI, and brother TJ struck out two in relief to seal it struck it, and the top-seeded Vikings held off the defending D-II champion in winning the program’s first such title since 2000.

For unassuming coach Paul Martinez, this marked a bit of unique history. He is the first section coach to win blue banners at three different schools, doing so twice at San Juan in the 1990s, then at Del Campo in 2013.

Greg Nichols moved to 9-1 on the season for Oakmont (30-3). Carson Blatnick also drove in a run for the Vikings.

Division III

Ponderosa 7, Buhach Colony 4 - The Bruins of Shingle Springs won their second section title, in program history, capping an improbable march as the No. 10 seed in downing top-seeded Buhach Colony of Atwater at Pacific. Ponderosa (17-15) tied Placer for fourth place in the Foothill Valley League but then took off in the playoffs, beating higher seeds at every turn, including No. 2 Sierra of Manteca.

Division V

Colfax 14, Bear River 3 at American River College – Mike Lavigne and John Louis Pantlick each drove in three runs and Colton Reeves had two RBIs to power the Falcons to a D-V repeat.

Longtime rival Bear River forced a second game after halting Colfax’s 20-game winning streak earlier Monday with a 14-9 victory to force a winner-take-all finale. Jason Holm earned the win, moving to 10-0 on the season for Colfax (26-7) and first-year coach Chris Nave.

The program as recently as 2016 went 3-15 and had a total of 11 victories from 2008-10.

Division VII

Alpha Charter 24, Valley Christian 8 at Sacramento City College – Joshua Hardamon drove in six, Jared Gutierrez four and Mitchell Kely three to power the Angels of Elverta to a D-VII repeat. Alpha Charter is in its third season of existence as a baseball academy, founded by 1970s Cordova star and eventual major league manager Jerry Manuel.

Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.