Joe Davidson

Delta League baseball stands as area’s best once again

Elk Grove Thundering Herd players pray at the Sac Joaquin Section Division I North baseball semifinals between the Elk Grove and the Oak Ridge Trojans at Sac City College's Union Stadium on May 24, 2016, in Sacramento.
Elk Grove Thundering Herd players pray at the Sac Joaquin Section Division I North baseball semifinals between the Elk Grove and the Oak Ridge Trojans at Sac City College's Union Stadium on May 24, 2016, in Sacramento. Sacramento Bee file

The Delta League is making a strong case as the strongest baseball conference in the region after successful spring tournaments.

League play resumed Monday with six Sacramento Bee-ranked teams either battling for the championship or a playoff berth, not to mention Monterey Trail already equaling its best single-season victory total in the school’s 11-year history at 8-7.

Four Delta teams dot the Bee’s top five with No. 8 Jesuit and No. 14 Sheldon also in the rankings.

Davis remains top ranked after reaching the prestigious, statewide Boras Classic north-bracket championship game held in Sacramento. The Blue Devils defeated highly touted Saint Francis of Mountain View (7-3), Casa Grande of Petaluma (1-0) and Stockdale of Bakersfield (9-7) before falling to Bellarmine of San Jose (6-2) in the north finals.

Junior Ryan Holgate is batting .325 with 14 RBIs and is 4-1 with a 0.40 ERA for Davis.

Second-ranked Elk Grove, the two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion, is 6-7 entering the week but has not suffered losses to a section team. The Thundering Herd beat No. 3 Oak Ridge of the Sierra Foothill League 6-2 last month and earned a 5-0 win over La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad last week in the San Diego Lions Tournament while falling in three other close games to high-profile programs.

On Thursday, Elk Grove hosts No. 4 Franklin, which went 5-0 at the Fresno Easter Classic but could not compete in the finals as it would have exceeded the allowable games for a season. The Wildcats outscored teams 36-2 as Grant Stevens, Stuart Davies, Evan Gibbons and Zach Meddings each pitched well.

Franklin played No. 5 Pleasant Grove on Monday and will again on Tuesday. Pleasant Grove has split with Davis in a meeting of old coaching pals who were teammates at Davis High and UC Davis (Rob Rinaldi of Pleasant Grove and Dan Ariola of Davis). The Eagles went 4-1 in the Fresno Easter Classic, falling to Santana 3-1 in the finals.

Eighth-ranked Jesuit started the season 1-6 in suffering one local loss (12-2 to No. 7 Del Oro) and is 2-0 in the Delta after back-to-back wins against Sheldon. The Marauders, who went 2-2 in the Fresno Easter Classic, play Davis twice next week.

Four-sport star – Robert Holt is a man for all seasons. The Monterey Trail senior is capping his senior season in track and field and in baseball after earning Bee first-team All-Metro honors (he played quarterback, defensive back and special teams) and he was an All-Metro honorable mention player in basketball after leading the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding.

Holt, headed to Portland State on a football scholarship, specializes in the hurdles and high jump. He said he competes in baseball as well because he wanted to maximize every ounce of his final season. Holt is also an honors student.

Softball – After a wet weekend, the weather should clear up in time for some highlight matchups involving area powerhouses.

The week’s biggest game is Thursday afternoon, when Bee No. 1 Sheldon hosts No. 2 Elk Grove in what figures to be a tense rematch. The Huskies look to avenge last month’s 4-3 loss to Elk Grove – Sheldon’s only loss of the season. Sheldon, winner of its past nine games by four runs or more, has been anchored by senior Taliyah Miles, who boasts a 0.98 ERA, a .433 batting average and two home runs. Elk Grove enters on a six-game win streak.

▪ No. 11 Oak Ridge will host No. 4 Del Oro on Wednesday. One of the rare games during spring break last week included then-No. 18 Lincoln beating No. 3 Del Campo 3-1.

▪ Kennedy’s speedy shortstop Mia Santos has scored 21 runs and stolen 21 bases on as many attempts entering the week. Batting .537, she’s helped carry the Cougars to a 14-3 record.

▪ Despite her team’s 4-8 record, Grant sophomore infielder Vallery Wong’s scorching .778 batting average is good for third among state qualified leaders.

No other hitter in the area ranks in the top 100.

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. Davis (1) 11-3

2. Elk Grove (2) 6-7

3. Oak Ridge (3) 9-4

4. Franklin (5) 10-4-1

5. Pleasant Grove (4) 12-3

6. Christian Brothers (6) 12-1

7. Del Oro (7) 10-7

8. Jesuit (8) 6-8

9. Granite Bay (9) 10-4-1

10. Vista del Lago (10) 11-3

11. Capital Christian (12) 15-3

12. Lincoln (13) 12-6

13. Oakmont (15) 10-7

14. Sheldon (11) 7-7

15. Liberty Ranch (14) 13-5

16. Roseville (17) 9-9

17. Del Campo (18) 10-7

18. Yuba City (19) 10-7

19. River Valley (20) 9-8

20. Whitney (-) 10-7

Joe Davidson/Mike McGough

THE BEE’S SOFTBALL RANKINGS

Records through Sunday, last week in parentheses

1. Sheldon (1) 15-1

2. Elk Grove (2) 12-2

3. Del Campo (3) 14-5

4. Del Oro (4) 12-3-1

5. Rocklin (5) 8-5-1

6. Vista del Lago (6) 9-5

7. Casa Roble (7) 10-4

8. Pioneer (8) 11-4-1

9. Yuba City (9) 12-3-1

10. River City (10) 9-2-1

11. Lincoln (18) 11-3

12. Oak Ridge (11) 9-4

13. Christian Brothers (12) 12-4-1

14. Whitney (13) 11-6

15. Bella Vista (15) 9-5

16. Granite Bay (14) 9-7

17. Kennedy (16) 14-3

18. Woodcreek (17) 8-7

19. Davis (19) 6-7

20. Pleasant Grove (20) 9-5

Mike McGough

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