Joe Davidson

Outdoor living: Lincoln beats rival Placer for baseball three-peat

Lincoln High School baseball players celebrate after beating Placer on Monday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship at Sacramento City College.
Lincoln High School baseball players celebrate after beating Placer on Monday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship at Sacramento City College.

Graylon Duncan works at a Bass Pro Shops.

He dabbles in hunting and fishing while coaching baseball at Lincoln High School in Placer County.

So, coach, what’s your hobby?

“A lot of both,” Duncan said amid laughter on Monday afternoon while soaking in the championship glow of the great outdoors at Sacramento City College.

Rallying to win their fourth consecutive playoff game, the Zebras defeated Pioneer Valley League rival Placer 6-5 to three-peat as Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions at Union Stadium.

It’s the fourth time Lincoln toppled the Hillmen this season, but this was the most difficult task. Lincoln (24-7) scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Moises Huerta’s two-run double tied it 4-4, then Jared Palmyra’s two-out, two-run single made it 6-4, and the Zebras held on from there amid white-knuckle anxiety, beating the Hillmen (15-15) twice in the three-peat.

“I’m really excited for the boys becaue they’ve worked so hard, and so has our coaching staff,” Duncan said. “I don’t care where you are or what level you’re playing, but three titles in a row is not easy. You’ve got that target on your back. Everyone comes after you.”

Duncan played baseball at Casa Roble in the early 1980s and he was an assistant with the powerhouse Rams in the 1990s, including the 1993 team that stormed to the Division I championship and rates as one of the region’s all-time best.

Duncan wanted to unleash a lineup where every bat counts and every arm counts, much like his old Rams. James Sweet, Huerta and Palmyra produced again, taking the pressure off of senior third baseman Charles Middleton, who entered the game batting .600 with 57 hits, 53 RBIs, 33 runs, 18 doubles and seven home runs, including two in a playoff win over Ceres. Gabe Thomas-Small drove in two runs for Placer.

Capital Christian 6, Escalon 2 – Leadoff hitters Xavier Carter and Brett Graber each drove in two runs and combined to score four times, and Tyler Pon tossed a complete-game, striking out four to finish 11-1 as the Cougars won their fifth consecutive D-V championship under coach Nelson Randolph. Carter homered, his third of the season, as Capital Christian (25-6) pounded out 10 hits at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi to win its sixth title since 2008.

Vacaville Christian 6, Bradshaw Christian 0 – Lucas Sweany struck out 13 and the Falcons beat their Sierra Delta League rivals at Sacramento City College for the third time this season in winning the program’s first baseball championship, this one in D-VI. Brett Huntley had two RBI for Vacaville Christian (26-5), and Sweany finished 11-2 on the season and 2-0 in the playoffs. Bradshaw Christian has five titles since 2010.

Valley Christian Academy 6, Venture Academy 2 – Brooks McKeighton had a bases-clearing triple to highlight the six-run sixth inning, and he earned the win in relief as the Lions of Roseville (23-6) won at Zupo Field to secure their eighth D-VII title since 2008 under coach Brad Gunter Jr., who vows to keep his ZZ Top-like beard extra long as long as his team wins. Gunter won his 400th game earlier this season and his 20th league championship in 21 seasons.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD