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Yuba City closes in on title; R.V. fading
River Valley High's first playoff bid took a big hit on Wednesday.
While the Falcons lost 11-4 to Yuba City at home, Pioneer poured a little salt in the wound in Woodland by defeating the Wolves 6-5 in eight innings.
Now the Falcons' regular season finale on Friday becomes ever so critical — a win and they're in, while a loss and another victory by Pioneer would mean their season will come to an end.
"They play at 4:15 on Friday so we should know coming in what we need to do," River Valley coach Billy Rollins said. "We'll see what happens."
But if the Falcons (16-10, 8-6) are going to do what they've never done before and beat the Honkers, they'll need much more production than what they showed on Wednesday as Yuba City raced to a 9-0 lead in the fourth inning and rode the arm of senior southpaw Jake Stassi to earn the victory at Falcon Field.
Yuba City (24-2, 12-2) sprayed the ball all over the park to the tune of 12 hits, just one day after collecting 16 base knocks in a 16-6 win over their cross-town rivals.
Needless to say, the Honkers are hitting their stride at precisely the right time.
"They started a lot of the guys off with off-speed pitches, but we had good approaches at the plate and stayed back on the ball," said Stassi, who picked up his team-best eighth victory of the season. "We stuck it too them early and got out on top, and our two-out hitting was key today."
The Honkers took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly to left by Zak Morgan in the top of the first inning and broke the game open in the third when they batted through the order to score five runs.
Morgan, Christian Divelbiss, Bryce Thornton and Seth Davis each slapped RBI singles in the frame, and when it was over the Honkers claimed a 6-0 advantage.
Yuba City added three more runs in the fourth to make it a 9-0 game, providing more than enough offensive support for Stassi and his minuscule 0.53 ERA.
The Falcons plated two runs on a pair of RBI singles by Ivan Lamas and Robert Hudson in the fourth, but it was too little too late as the Honkers' ace limited River Valley to two runs and seven hits while striking out seven in six innings of work to pick up the win.
Morgan was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Davis went 2 for 3 and drove in a run and Zach Oakley finished 2 for 4 to lead the Honkers, who found the holes in the Falcons' defense by taking pitches to the opposite field.
"We work a lot on waiting until the ball gets deep and going the other way with it," said Yuba City coach Jim Stassi. "We've been swinging the bats well lately and were able to execute some situational stuff early."
Lamas finished 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, Cameron Olson was 2 for 3 and scored twice and Jake Phillips was 2 for 4 with an RBI to lead the Falcons (16-10, 8-6), who had nine hits of their own.
"We booted the ball a little today," said Rollins, who wasn't pleased with the four errors his club committed in the game. "We had seven hits against Jake and we put the ball in play, but we didn't get things going until there were two outs again."
The Honkers and Falcons wrap up the regular season Friday night at Yuba City's Winship Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
A Honkers' win would secure their fourth-straight TCC title and a total of six consecutive league crowns.
"We don't care if we're the No. 1 or No. 2 seed," said Stassi, who has guided the powerhouse Honkers to a record of 111-9 over the last four seasons, including the last three Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships. "You can't win a section title unless you make the playoffs."
River Valley won the junior varsity game 5-4 in eight innings. Derek Zaragoza was 1 for 3 and scored two runs, including the game-winner and Jordan Pankey drove in a run in the seventh to lead the Falcons (12-13, 8-6).