Friday May 15 2009
Thunder out of gate quickly in section baseball tourney
By: Galen Kusic, Special to The Placer Herald
Rocklin tops Burbank, advances to semifinals
The Rocklin Thunder had little problem defeating the Burbank Titans Thursday evening in round one of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs at Sacramento City College's Union Field, 8-3. Rocklin jumped out to an early lead in the first when outfielder Justin Castro walked and Thunder outfielder Pat Stover doubled to put runners on second and third. Jason Hampton grounded to third, but got the run home to put the Thunder up 1-0. With two out and the bases loaded in the second, Burbank starter Miles Freeman plunked Stover to put Rocklin up 2-0 with the bases still juiced. Hampton came to the plate and scored two on a line single to center, and on the next pitch, Stover scored from third on a wild pitch to put the Thunder up 5-0. "We were just trying to get some runs across," said Hampton. "The second inning was a big way to get it started." In the fourth, on a 3-1 count Stover roped a shot up the left center gap to score Castro and put Rocklin up 6-0. After Phillip Green replaced Freeman on the hill, catcher Wes Marker grounded up the middle into a fielder's choice at second, scoring Stover from third. Kyle Garvella then broke it open with a single to right, scoring Marker and increasing the Rocklin lead to 8-0. Burbank got its first rally going in the top of the fifth when Green was hit by a pitch and outfielder Vincent Pattio hit a high-hopper for an infield single to put runners on first and second, but the Titans couldn't capitalize as Rocklin starter Matt Fielding struck out the side to end the threat. Fielding allowed no runs on three hits, one walk and struck out ten Titans over five. Hampton came in to replace him and struck out the side in the sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh. "I just tried to come out and do what I do and not walk people," said Fielding. "I could have kept going, but Jason needed some work, too." With the season on the line, Burbank managed to get another rally going, this time jumpstarted by catcher Antoine Stocker's single. Green singled on the following play, but Stocker was thrown out from right trying to make it from first to third. Pattio then walked and K.J. Daniels delivered a big RBI double up the middle to put the Titans on the board. After a wild pitch allowed Pattio to score, Daniels advanced to third and Richard McGee hit into a fielder's choice, scoring Daniels to cut the Rocklin lead to 8-3. "They (Burbank) didn't stop making plays, their defense was excellent," said Rocklin coach Roc Murray. "Our guys hadn't played in over a week, so we played as hard as we could and they did a nice job." That was as close as the Titans would get, as Hampton struck out outfielder Bobby Wooten to end the game and Burbank's season. "I was trying to overpower too much," said Hampton. "I wasn't locating as well as I could, but it was nice knowing I had a cushion coming into the last inning. Getting out to a good lead is huge. We just need to keep playing hard and battling." The Titans end the season 11-16, while Rocklin improves to 20-7 on the year, 3-0 at neutral sites. The Thunder move on to the best-of-three second round of the tourney, and a date with defending section champion Ponderosa. With Granite Bay and Del Oro set to duke it out in the other half of the draw, the Bruins are the last non-Sierra Foothill League team standing. The two semifinal series begin Monday night at Sac City, with game one of Granite Bay vs. Del Oro at 5 p.m. followed by Rocklin vs. Ponderosa at 8 p.m.