Kevin Dawidczik lived to see another game, and so, too, did his gritty Del Campo Cougars.
Dawidczik is the baseball coach who wasn't sure he would be in uniform for Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II game against Granite Bay at American River College. The fiery coach got ejected in the fourth inning against Bear Creek of Stockton in an earlier playoff contest, a setting that was emotionally charged on the field, in the dugouts and in the stands.
Del Campo pitcher Ettman Noriega grabbed his departing coach by the shoulders and said, "We got your back, Coach! We got you, and we got this!"
They got a 6-4 win over Bear Creek, and then got their coach back for a 6-5 victory over Granite Bay on Saturday to keep the season alive and running. Coaches who are ejected must sit out the next game, unless they win an appeal, which is rare. But Del Campo is winning in everything right now, beyond its 24-5-1 record. A CIF ethics committee overturned the ejection, and Dawidczik won his appeal.
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"Thank God, because I wanted to be with my team more than anything," Dawidczik said. "Amazing group of young men. My boys had my back. One of the proud moments of my coaching career (to rally and beat Bear Creek and stay alive)."
Del Campo plays Woodcreek in a semifinal on Tuesday at ARC. In addition to Noriega, Del Campo has been led by outfielders David Joseph, Morgan Loughlean and Mason Poisson, pitchers Ryan Gil, Sam Hayden and Braden Proud and infielders Kyler Key, Jeffrey Jamison and Sam Wolf.
Noriega is 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA on a staff that also includes Bee All-Metro quarterback Tyler Dimino, who is 2-0 with four saves and a 1.21 ERA. He had not played baseball in three years.
Ah, the sudden joys of multi-sporting.
Track and field
Nia Collins of Monterey Trail was a triple winner at the section Division I championships, serving as a nice head start heading into this week's Masters meet at Elk Grove High School.
The senior won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.09 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 43.66 and then ran anchor on the 400 relay team that clocked 48.50 with Tehya Beadles, India Collins and Chioma Onejeme.
Maddy Denner of Oak Ridge and twin sister Elena placed first and second, respectively, in the girls 1,600-meter run, and they had a near reversal of sorts in the 3,200.
Maddy clocked 4:45.44 in the four-lap race, Olivia O'Keefe of Davis was second in 4:46.25 and Elena was just behind at 4:48.07.
In the 3,200, Elena won in 10:18.61, Maddy was second in 10:21.77 and O'Keeffe was third in 10:34.09.
Cathilyn McIntosh of Del Oro won the 800 in 2:15.09, teammate Megan Leaman took the long jump at 18 feet, 7 inches, Elena Siemens of Davis won the pole vault at 11 feet, 9 inches, and Thalia Reid of Sheldon won the 400 in 55.39.
Zach Larrier of Monterey Trail blazed to another 400 win, this time in 47.44. He also took the 200 in 21.87 and anchored the victorious 4x400 relay that finished in 3:20.39 with Camden Wheeler, Ruben Garcia and Bubba Echols.
Justin Williams of Sheldon won the 100 in 10.86, Oliver Gates of Pleasant Grove took the long jump at 23 feet, 8 inches and Tazio Rosenberg of Davis won the shot put with a 53-8 1/4 effort.
Davis won the girls team title with 86 points, with Oak Ridge second (70). St. Mary's of Stockton won the boys title with 64 points, with Monterey Trail second (55). For complete results, visit cifsjs.org.
The CIF State finals are June 1 and 2 at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
Oak Ridge placed second in the fourth CIF State Boys Swimming championships in Clovis after winning team titles each of the previous two seasons.
On the strength of winning their third successive state 200-yard medley relay and Ben Dillard setting a state mark in the 500 free in 4 minutes, 19.14 seconds, the Trojans scored 150 points, seven behind winner Northwood of Irvine. Jesuit finished ninth.
In girls, Rio Americano was fourth and Davis fifth in the team standings. Santa Margarita won the team title. Davis set a meet record in the 200-yard medley in 1:41.31.