Zebras just miss earning playoff spot

Hillmen finish one game ahead of Lincoln
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High’s varsity baseball team did everything it could to make the playoffs as the season wound down. The Zebras won their final four Pioneer Valley League games. But it wasn’t enough. Despite the fact that the Zebras finished with a record of 8-4 in the PVL, the Zebras will be watching when the playoffs open next week. Lincoln (13-13-1 overall) placed third in the seven-team PVL and that would have been good enough to qualify for the playoffs in recent seasons. However this year it was the PVL’s turn to send just two teams to the playoffs. Bear River (10-2) won the league and Placer (9-3) is also heading to the postseason. Because Lincoln finished 8-4, Placer and Mesa Verde had to finish a game that was called a 12-12 tie after nine innings earlier in the season. With some Lincoln players and coaches in the stands at Mesa Verde Friday, Placer beat Mesa Verde 14-12 in 12 innings in the continuation of that game. The victory put the Hillmen in the playoffs. Lincoln and Placer would have played one more game to decide the final playoff spot if Mesa Verde had beat Placer. “We would have liked the opportunity to play against Placer Monday and the kids were jazzed,” Lincoln coach Rick Foster said. Lincoln crushed visiting Mesa Verde 11-1 in its final league game May 1. The game lasted just five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. Mesa Verde scored its run in the first inning and Lincoln scored 11 runs in the last of the fifth inning. “I had no idea the game was over,” said Foster, not realizing his team had scored 11 runs in rapid-fire fashion. Junior Matt Paul actually had to alert him that the game had ended after Lincoln’s 11th run had scored. “I said ‘what? We don’t have 10 runs,’” Foster said. “I had no idea the game was over.” Paul threw all five innings and allowed one run, four hits and three walks while whiffing eight. Rex Sievers (1-for-1, run, RBI, three walks, steal), Russell Burke (1-2, two runs, RBI, steal), Paul (2-3, run, two RBI, double) and Dusty Foster (2-4, run, four RBI, double) led the Lincoln offense. Although the season ended sooner than he would have hoped, Foster was still very proud of what his team accomplished this season. “Overall we did just an outstanding job,” said Foster, who credited his assistant coaches Bill Halbert and David Foxworthy. “When it came down to crunch time the kids played some very, very good baseball. “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. The big thing was all year we had little to no drama on the team. We played as a team and not as individuals. We’re returning 10 players out of 13 and next year looks really good.” Lincoln closed the season with an 11-0 loss to visiting Sutter in non-league action May 6. “Give them their due, they played well and are going to the playoffs,” Foster said. “We didn’t start our normal lineup and we wanted to make sure our seniors and the guys who didn’t play much this season got to play the majority of the game.”