Huskies edge Falcons in postseason tune-up
With postseason positioning for both teams already secured, Tuesday's baseball game between Sutter and River Valley High was nothing more than a tune-up.
Both clubs have aspirations of making a run toward section titles in the coming weeks, so the two decided to meet up at the end of the regular season for the second straight year to ready themselves for the rigors of the playoffs.
The result, however, turned out to be the same.
Colton Minton broke a tie ballgame by hitting an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Huskies received a near spotless relief performance from Hayden Heilman to pick up a 4-3 victory over the Falcons at Arata Field in Sutter.
Sutter also won last season's tune-up game 10-3 over River Valley.
The Huskies (19-2) wrapped up the Butte View League title almost three weeks ago and have had little to play for since then. When the Northern Section brackets are released today, Sutter should earn the No. 1 seed for the Division II playoffs, which are set begin on Friday.
"It's good preparation for the playoffs," Huskies coach Mark Renfree said. "It's a good community event. It had a playoff feel, so it was nice today."
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when senior Caleb Parker connected for a solo home run over the wall in right-center to put the Huskies on top. Nathan Ahlers added a run-scoring single in the third and clubbed an RBI double in the fourth to give Sutter a 3-0 lead before River Valley (19-7) answered back by scoring three times in the fifth.
Derek Zaragoza beat out an infield single to start the rally and moved to third on a double by Cameron Boomgaarden. Jake Phillips knocked in a run with a groundout, Cameron Olson followed with an RBI double and T.J. Dove singled in a run to tie the game at 3.
But Jason Suleski led off the sixth with a single and came in to score on a double by Minton in what proved to be the game-winner.
Sophomore Brad Bonnenfant started the game for Sutter and looked strong until experiencing tightness in his side in the fifth. Heilman then came on out of the bullpen and retired the minimum over 21⁄3 innings of relief to earn the victory.
"We hit the ball when it counted and the key to beating a good team is to play good defense, and we did that," Renfree said. "It was a good ballgame by our pitchers and our defense."
Parker finished the game 2 for 3 with a home run and a double, while Minton, Ahlers and Morgan Osgood added two hits apiece for Sutter, which collected 11 hits in the game.
Olson went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles to lead the way for the Falcons, who will host McClatchy today in their final tune-up before beginning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. River Valley will host its first ever playoff game on Monday against an opponent yet to be determined.
"We treated it as a chance to get in some work and to tune things up for the playoffs," Falcons coach Billy Rollins said. "It was a well-played game by both teams. For their size, they showed they can compete with the larger schools."