Lincoln wins third consecutive baseball section title

Zebras rally in nail-bitter
By: Aaron Jackson for The News Messenger
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The Lincoln High School baseball team defeated the Placer Hillmen 6-5 at Sacramento City College on Monday to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship. It was Lincoln’s third title in a row and the fourth year in a row they have made it to the section championship.

It should be noted that in 2014 Lincoln played in Division III and lost to Pioneer 2-0 in that championship.

After the Zebras’ starting pitcher Issac Adams gave up only one hit in the top of the first, Lincoln came out swinging in the bottom scoring a run off a single by James Sweet. The game then became a pitching duel between Adams and Jay Maloney of the Hillmen.

Both pitchers combined to give up only two walks and one hit until the top of the fifth inning; this was when Placer caught fire.

The Hillmen had four runs off four hits including an RBI by Josh Marcione to take the lead 4-1. Lincoln had two errors, which cost them a run in the inning.

Once Placer took the lead the Zebras had only three innings left to score three runs.

The Zebras did not score in the fifth, but relief pitcher Leo Martinez put Lincoln back up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth after some great pitching in the top of the frame.

Seniors Ryan Graham and Charles Middleton both hit singles to lead off the inning. It only got better as Ty Williams walked to load the bases.

Sweet and Moises Huerta both got hits to bring three runs home and all of a sudden the game was tied at 4-4, with runners on second and third and no outs.

Placer then made a pitching change and put Alex Vargas on the mound. Vargas started off strong by striking out the next two batters.

Junior Jared Palmyra came to the plate with two outs and two runners on and a chance to take the lead. Palmyra got hold of a pitch and sent it to right center field where he doubled to bring both runs home and give the lead back to Lincoln, 6-4.

The Palmyra double capped off a five-run, five-hit inning for the Fighting Zebras.

Placer had one final chance to get back in the game in the top of the seventh after being stunned by the Zebras’ offense.

After a quick groundout, Gabe Thomas-Small hit a single to get on base for the Hillmen. After a fly out to center field, there was one runner on and two outs for Placer.

Shane Betts stepped to the plate and hit a screamer down the left-field line to double and bring one run home. A walk followed and Placer had two runners on with two outs and the score 6-5.

Chandler Dakin hit a fly ball to right field, which was caught by Graham to end the game and give Lincoln its third title in a row.

“Life will echo in eternity. We preach that how we carry ourselves and the work ethic we have will be left on the team for future players,” said Zebras head coach Graylon Duncan after the game. “This team finds a way to grind games out and they trust they will make a push when needed.”

Lincoln came from behind in every playoff game this year. Palmyra described what it was like to experience that moment with his fellow players.

“There is no better team to be with; we are truly like family,” he said.

The junior also commented on the Zebras’ move up to Division III next year, “As long as we keep our work ethic, it doesn’t matter who we play as long as we do our thing.”

It was a doubly great year for seniors Graham, Adams, Middleton and Greden McFarlin, who were also members of the Pioneer Valley League champion football Zebras last fall.

_ Aaron Jackson is the Lincoln High Sports Information Director.