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Mayor's Series takes center stage
R.V., Y.C. set to clash for TCC title
This week, the rivalry means more than ever.
It's not just pride on the line when River Valley and Yuba City High's baseball teams square off in a three-game Tri-County Conference series, beginning today at Falcon Field.
For the second time in two years, it's winner-take-all.
Here's the scenario: If Yuba City wins one game out of the series, the Honkers win the TCC for the sixth straight year. River Valley has to sweep the series to win the conference for the first time ever.
Last season, the Falcons and Honkers were in the same situation.
Game one is today at River Valley. Wednesday is an off-day followed by game two on Thursday at Winship Field. The series concludes on Friday back at R.V.
All games are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m.
Bragging rights and tons of hype surround the Mayor's Series, but both coaches shared the same sentiment — the real goal lies ahead in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Conference championships are nice; section championships are even sweeter.
"We've been taking every game one inning at a time and this is no different," said Yuba City coach Dave Rodriguez. "Just like when we faced Davis, or Oak Ridge, or anybody else this year, the opposing team is just another nameless, faceless opponent."
Rodriguez will send senior ace Zach Oakley to the mound against the Falcons today, while River Valley coach Billy Rollins will counter with sophomore righty Rickey Ramirez.
Oakley, a right-hander, is 6-2 this season with a 1.11 ERA in 44 innings pitched to go with 41 strikeouts. Ramirez will be making his third start of the season today.
"At the end of the day, it's just another baseball game," Rollins said. "We just have to make sure we're fundamentally sound and don't beat ourselves."
Last season, the teams played the two closest games in the rivalry's history.
Yuba City won 8-7 and 3-2, the smallest winning margin by the Honkers, who have never lost to the Falcons in 15 games.
River Valley (19-3, 10-2) has already clinched its best season in program history, and both teams have earned a home game to begin the postseason, regardless of the series' outcome.
"In a three-game series, mistakes are going to happen," Rollins said. "We just have to be able to respond from those."
The pitching matchups for games two and three are still up in the air.
Yuba City will go with junior Chandler Eden at home on Thursday. Rollins said the outcome of today's game will decide who he goes with on Thursday and Friday.
The likely options for R.V. are Austin Spencer, Stuart Bradley or Jake Phillips. Rodriguez said Friday's starter is "to-be-determined," though candidates include Mario Kohn, Damon Bugarin and Jake Cormier.
Rodriguez said one aspect of this year's rivalry series is something supporters of both schools can get behind: Both programs played the best baseball in the TCC this season.
"I think the neat and exciting thing about (the series) is our community has two teams they should be proud of," Rodriguez said. "We have the best baseball players in our community, this is the way it should be.
"It's going to be exciting."
CONTACT Jimmy Graben at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4791. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADjgraben