Joe Davidson

Proud alum keeps McClatchy’s baseball team in playoff contention

Mike de Necochea shows off a championship ring. He has coached McClatchy High to six Metro League baseball titles since 2007.
Mike de Necochea shows off a championship ring. He has coached McClatchy High to six Metro League baseball titles since 2007. Courtesy of Mike de Necochea

Mike de Necochea grew up on this.

As a young boy, he would rally up neighborhood friends from Bidwell Way and head over to nearby McClatchy High School.

“We’d hop over fences and watch baseball and basketball games, watching all those great players and then emulate them,” said de Necochea, in his 13th season as McClatchy’s baseball coach. “I couldn’t wait to go to school there to play for Bob Sandoval in football, Harvey Tahara in basketball and Bernie Church in baseball.”

The kid lived out his dream and continues to do so. He has The Bee’s No. 19-ranked Lions in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, and he has a milestone victory to boot.

In an 11-1 win over Franklin of Stockton on Saturday, de Necochea won his 224th game. He passed Brian LoForte, who won 223 in 10 seasons, the highlight coming in 1998 with a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship win over C.C. Sabathia and Vallejo. Earlier this season, de Necochea passed up Church, who won 221 games over 16 seasons and had infielder Joel Bishop and outfielder Dion James picked in the first round of the 1972 and 1980 drafts, respectively.

What adds to de Necochea’s pride is he is coaching son, Michael, this season. Michael is a junior utility player with 11 RBIs.

“It’s really cool, all of it,” de Necochea said.

What’s even more cool for de Necochea is watching back-to-back perfect games this season by Lions pitchers Theo Dopkins and Jack Hinrichsen. The latter is 7-1 and also had a no-hitter against Cordova and nearly another against Sacramento. Shortstop Jack Filby, a UCLA commit as a junior, is hitting .443; Justin Mico .459; Ruben Trejo .429; Matt Ogihara .433; Coulter Bristow .474; and 6-foot-5, 225-pound Brenden Volker .500 with a team-best 24 RBIs.

“Volker was nearly cut during the first day of JV tryouts a few years ago,” de Necochea said. “I was told he can’t catch or hit, but I said, ‘You’ve got to watch him hit! He’ll get better.’ He was a 4.0 student, comes by every conditioning class. Can’t cut him.”

As for Filby, de Necochea said, “He’s just a stud. He’s worked so hard, straight A’s, and he doesn’t get a lot of pitches to hit.”

De Necochea played on three playoff teams as a Lions senior. The football team in 1984 featured Donald Hair, who set state scoring records that season.

“I was on the kickoff-return team with Donald, and teams always kicked to me,” de Necochea. “It’s been fun, 13 years, and we’ve turned out some good teams and good people who go on to be successful in life.”

More milestones – Brad Gunter Jr. won his 400th game in his 21st season at Valley Christian Academy, a Division VII school in Roseville that has become a section powerhouse.

VCA beat Leroy Greene Academy 3-0, and win No. 402 was against No. 20 Laguna Creek 6-3 in eight innings. VCA seeks its eighth section title in 10 years, having won its 20th league championship under Gunter, the school’s athletic director and pastor affectionately known as “The Beard” for his hearty chin growth.

Gunter’s favorite player was his son, Micah, who last week earned a Big 8 Conference gold glove for American River as the Beavers’ best pitcher. Gunter’s best player, Ryan Cordell, is an outfielder with Triple-A Colorado Springs, which plays the River Cats four times this week.

Herd heating up – Two-time defending section D-I champion Elk Grove took a seven-game winning streak into the week, including wins over No. 6 Davis (20-8 and 9-5) and No. 9 Jesuit (5-3 and 2-0).

In the 5-3 victory over Jesuit, USC-bound ace Riley Lamb struck out eight batters and Shawn Zamora drove in three runs. Zamora and Tanner Carlson each had three RBIs and Kordell Brown four in the 20-8 win against Davis. Carlson, a Long Beach State commit, is the son of coach Jeff Carlson and younger brother to Dylan Carlson, The Bee’s 2016 Player of the Year now in the Cardinals organization as a first-round pick.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

The Bee’s Baseball Rankings

Records through Sunday, last week in parentheses

1. Franklin (1) 17-5-1

2. Granite Bay (2) 17-5-1

3. Elk Grove (5) 15-9

4. Oak Ridge (3) 16-8

5. Christian Brothers (6) 22-1

6. Davis (4) 18-7

7. Del Oro (7) 15-11

8. Pleasant Grove (9) 17-8

9. Jesuit (8) 12-13

10. Sheldon (10) 12-13

11. Vista del Lago (11) 16-8

12. Lincoln (12) 18-6

13. Capital Christian (13) 20-4

14. Oakmont (15) 18-9

15. Yuba City (16) 19-8

16. Liberty Ranch (14) 19-6

17. Del Campo (18) 14-9

18. Whitney (19) 19-8

19. McClatchy (-) 18-7

20. Laguna Creek (20) 18-8

The Bee’s Softball Rankings

Records through Sunday, last week in parentheses

1. Sheldon (1) 22-2

2. Del Campo (2) 21-5

3. Del Oro (3) 19-4-1

4. Elk Grove (4) 19-5

5. Vista del Lago (5) 18-6

6. Casa Roble (6) 18-6

7. Oak Ridge (9) 17-5

8. Rocklin (7) 11-8-1

9. Pioneer (8) 18-4-1

10. River City (10) 18-5-1

11. Whitney (11) 17-8

12. Lincoln (12) 17-6-1

13. Bella Vista (13) 18-7

14. Yuba City (14) 16-6-1

15. Roseville (15) 17-7-1

16. Christian Brothers (16) 17-7-1

17. Kennedy (17) 19-4

18. Granite Bay (18) 12-9

19. Pleasant Grove (20) 16-8

20. Liberty Ranch (-) 20-2-1