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Wolverines strike out in regionals

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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One bad inning was the beginning of the end for Sierra College’s baseball team. One good pitcher was too much for the Wolverines softball squad during the Northern California Super Regionals. Both teams started 1-1 in the double-elimination playoffs at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. Rob Willson’s baseball team did not recover after losing its second game and also lost the third. Darci Brownell’s softball team also lost its second game, dropping a 3-2 decision to Delta, but the Wolverines bounced back to beat Sacramento City for the second time in two days to stay alive. Rebecca Rodriguez’s RBI single capped a three-run rally in the seventh inning Friday as Sierra beat Sacramento City 5-4. After losing to Delta on Saturday, Sierra eliminated Sacramento City with a 6-2 win. That sent Sierra into a rematch Sunday with Delta and pitcher Katie Cotta, who improved to 5-0 against the Wolverines this season and 30-0 overall as the Mustangs rolled to an 8-0 victory. Cotta shut out Sierra for the third time, but the Wolverines pushed the sophomore to the limit Saturday. Rodriguez homered in the fourth inning to put Sierra ahead, but Delta answered with a two-run shot by Stephanie Leles. The Wolverines rallied to tie the score in the fifth. Sierra pitcher Ashley McMahon was one strike away from escaping the sixth unscathed, but Desirae Walsh hit an RBI single to put Delta on top. The Mustangs improved to 40-0 with the victory. “We were in it. All the chips were there for us,” Brownell said, “(Cotta is) a good pitcher. She’s tough.” The Wolverines had to return to the field 30 minutes later to battle Sacramento City in an elimination game. Brownell started Katie Bell in the pitching circle to give McMahon more time to rest. Bell did not last long. The freshman was called for two illegal pitches in the first inning. One proved costly when a Sacramento City batter got a second chance after popping out on an illegal pitch and hit a two-run homer. Brownell called for McMahon, who shut out Sacramento City the rest of the way as Sierra rallied to stay alive. McMahon delivered on more than one occasion in her final season with the Wolverines. “We knew we were only going to go as far,” Brownell said, “as Ashley was going to take us.” McMahon finished 18-9 for Sierra, which went 33-14. Pitching also made a difference for the baseball team. Freshman Josh Eagle prevailed on Friday in a duel with Merced’s Jake Sisco, who had been 11-0 this season until Sierra rallied for a 4-1 victory. Sisco breezed through the first six innings, scattering four hits and striking out 11. A one-out error in the seventh put Kaden Kamoe on first base and brought Jordan Wilder to the plate. Sierra third-base coach Ryan Evangelho flashed the hit-and-run sign, but Wilder swung and missed. Wilder connected on the next pitch and deposited it beyond the right-field fence for a two-run homer. “(Sisco) is confident with his fastball, but I’m confident that I can hit anybody’s fastball,” Wilder said. “He left it up and I turned on it.” After Wilder’s homer, the Wolverines might as well have left their bats in the dugout. Sierra scored on Jason Merjano’s RBI single in the first inning against Delta on Saturday, but the Wolverines managed just one more single through seven innings. By then, Delta was leading 8-1. The Mustangs broke it open with five runs in the second inning on their way to a 13-6 win. Two of those runs came after Ryan Millison appeared to get out of the inning by striking out Erik Kozel on a pitch in the dirt. Catcher Jon Nutter’s throw to first base was high, however, so Kozel was safe. The error also allowed Jeff McKenzie to score. Rick Acosta followed with a double to drive in Kozel for the fifth run. That was more than enough runs for Trevor Miller, who improved to 9-0 by shutting out Sierra after Merjano’s single until Jeff Stephens doubled and scored on Trevor Thomas’ homer in the eighth. Those two runs were the last of the season for Sierra, which had just two hits in a 5-0 loss to Cosumnes River in the elimination game Saturday. The Wolverines finished 22-18. In the recent All-Big Conference voting, Kamoe (infield) and Scott Templeton (outfield) were selected to the first team. Eagle, Andrew Cooper (relief pitcher) and Stephens (outfield) were named to the second team.