Del Oro stumbles on the diamond in winner-take-all series

By: Gold Country News Service
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The final mountain was too steep for a team that has been fighting along the comeback trail for the entire season. The Del Oro High baseball team was down by six runs after two innings in a winner-take-all Sierra Foothill League game, and while the Golden Eagles made it interesting, they did not have enough. Roseville earned the third and final SFL playoff spot with an 11-6 win in the finale of a three-game series on May 13. After splitting the first two games of the series, the two squads entered the regular season finale tied for third in the SFL and knowing that just the winner would continue playing. The Tigers (14-13, 9-9 SFL) played like a team on a mission, using a collection of bloopers and bunts to score four in the first against Del Oro senior starter Brian Bynum. Roseville added two more in the second on a pair of long sacrifice flies, and it looked bleak for the home team, but there was no quit in the Eagles. Singles by seniors Freddie Cargile, Copper Johnson, Jesse Lang, Cole Perez and junior Ryan Xepoleus allowed Del Oro (12-12-1, 8-10 SFL) to plate five runs in the home half of the third, and suddenly it was a one-run game. The Tigers added two runs to extend their cushion to 8-5, and with Tyler Ash coming on to toss two strong innings of relief, that was enough. The Roseville closer had hurled a complete game in Roseville’s 2-1 win the previous day. “Ash kicked our butts the last two days,” head coach Bret Lachemann said. “We just couldn’t do enough to keep it close.” Lang and Xepoleus each had two hits for the Eagles as both teams banged out a total of nine hits in the finale. The loss ended a tough season for Del Oro, which swept Nevada Union the first week of May to set up the decisive set with Roseville. “If you had told us three weeks ago that we would be playing Roseville with a chance, we would have taken it,” Lachemann said. “We had them (with the Tuesday win), but hats off to Roseville, they came down to our place and took two.” The Eagles also won openers in their three-game series with Granite Bay and Woodcreek before dropping the final two. A team that entered the season with a small-ball mindset after breaking the school record for homers two years in a row finished with 12 longballs, only four shy of the mark the Eagles set during their second straight run to the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals last spring. Junior Max Magleby hit .372 (29-for-78) and led Del Oro with six homers, 27 RBIs and a .692 slugging percentage. In limited action at the plate, Bynum, a Granite Bay transfer who sat out last season, hit a team-best .433 (26-for-60) and drove in 12 runs with a .550 slugging percentage. Perez batted .386, slugged .523 and led the Eagles in hits (34) and doubles (six). He also drove in 25 runs. Lang (.356, 10 RBIs, team-high 25 runs scored), junior Josh Akin (.321, 10 RBIs), Cargile (.309, 11 RBIs, two home runs) and Johnson (.304, nine RBIs) also had strong seasons with the bat. Bynum, Johnson and Perez shouldered the mound duties. Johnson went 6-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 56 1/3 innings with a team-high 39 strikeouts. Bynum (2-4, 3.47 ERA) and Perez (3-3, 4.53) each threw 46 1/3 innings this spring.