Lincoln reaches playoffs

Zebras top Placer 14-2 to get in
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High’s varsity baseball team secured its spot in the playoffs with Tuesday night’s 14-2 victory over Placer in Auburn. The teams tied for third place in the Pioneer Valley League with a record of 7-5 and had to play this one-game playoff to decide who would advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division IV playoffs. Placer (13-8 overall) beat visiting Mesa Verde by a single run earlier on Tuesday to force this one-game playoff with the Zebras (14-11 overall). Placer and Mesa Verde tied 1-1 on March 26 as that game was suspended in the bottom of the second inning when a batter on deck accidentally struck Mavericks catcher Chris Farley. Farley suffered a broken nose and a concussion. Because of the tie the Placer Hillmen had a record of 6-5-1 and therefore Placer and Mesa Verde had to play again to determine who would be the No. 3 seed from the PVL. El Dorado (11-1) and Bear River (9-3) are the top seeds from the PVL. The playoffs begin tonight as Lincoln opens up against Oakdale, the Valley Oak League champion, at 7 p.m. The winner moves on to a best-of-three series beginning at noon Saturday against either Bear River or Rio Linda (Central Valley Conference champion). That series continues at 4 p.m. Tuesday with a second game to follow if necessary. The winner of that series advances to the section final on May 31. All games will be played at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Park in Sacramento except for the section final, which will be played at either Sacramento City College or Zupo Field in Lodi. Dan McAuliffe Memorial Park is located near Sacramento State University. Lincoln’s Marcus Maldonado pitched all six innings and allowed five hits and three walks against Placer on Tuesday. He struck out three Hillmen and limited them to one extra-base hit. The game was shortened to six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. “There was a quiet confidence until the game started and then our bench roared the whole game and kept everybody up,” said Lincoln co-coach Rick Foster about his players. Lincoln’s offense was explosive. Leadoff man Maldonado went 5-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored while Dusty Foster (3-3, double, two runs, six RBI), Sean Fox (1-3, two RBI) and Leland Smith (3-4, two RBI, homer, double) also had big days for the Zebras. Lincoln tagged Placer starting pitcher Cameron Southward for nine runs on 13 hits. “It was (fun to watch), especially in such a meaningful game,” said Foster about the offense. Lincoln’s coaches and players were excited with the win but they didn’t go overboard celebrating. “Of course we were all happy but it was kind of a controlled thing,” Foster said. “We don’t want to rub anything in anybody’s face. It very easily could have been the shoe on the other foot like it was on Friday (when Placer beat Lincoln).” Placer won the section title in DIV last year but they will miss the playoffs this season. “We didn’t want it to end like this, but it did,” Placer coach Larry Prewitt said. “I’m proud of my guys because they battled all year long. We could have folded up the tent a long time ago. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We just came out flat in this game and didn’t do what we’ve been doing.” Placer won 9-1 at Lincoln on Friday as Hillmen sophomore Ryan Mason no-hit the Zebras. Mason had five strikeouts and three walks. Lincoln had six base-runners in all - three by way of the walk, two on errors and one batter was hit. Sandoval reached base twice and scored Lincoln’s lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning. “The first time we faced (Mason) he didn’t seem to throw as hard as he did on Friday,” Foster said. “He threw an excellent game and our guys just didn’t make the right adjustments.” Lincoln also lost 12-6 at Bear River on May 12. Lincoln’s Cory Howell (2-3, RBI, two doubles, steal), John Aleman (1-2, run, double), Maldonado (1-2, run, RBI, three steals), Foster (1-3, two runs, double, steal), Fox (2-4, RBI) and Austin Pleich (1-3, two RBI) led the offense. Eric J. Gourley contributed to this report