Early 1-0 deficit is wiped out with six-run outburst as Thundering Herd defeat Temecula Valley 6-1 to win title in second-year of statewide event.
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As the Elk Grove High baseball team was getting ready to have its picture taken following a 6-1 triumph over Temecula Valley in Saturday’s championship game of the second annual Boras Baseball Classic, head coach Jeff Carlson didn’t want any of the players showing the No. 1 index finger (although they later did when prodded).
“I told them we’re not No. 1 until we win the last game,” said Carlson, whose team did win its last game last season in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship series.
It isn’t that the Elk Grove coach doesn’t appreciate that his team had just won a 32-team tourney over an elite statewide field that included separate 16-team brackets in the north and south. He just knows — similar to last year when Mater Dei of Santa Ana won the first Boras Classic but ended up getting upset in the CIF Southern Section playoffs — that in the fickle world of baseball it’s all about getting hot at the end of the season.
“This is a very rewarding title to win,” Carlson continued. “It was our sixth game in eight days (a Friday game lasted 12 innings) and just to come out here and elevate our game and to beat a powerhouse team like they have proves that we can play at that level.”
Temecula Valley, which entered the game at No. 9 in the state and had won two games earlier this week in Southwestern League play over Murrieta Mesa of Murrieta, fell to 17-5 overall. The Bears probably won’t drop much if at all in next week’s rankings. They had beaten league rival Vista Murrieta 4-1 on April 5 to win the SoCal Boras Classic crown.
Elk Grove pumped up its winning streak to 15 games by toppling the Bears. The Thundering Herd (20-4) were No. 5 in the state and are sure to move up next since two teams in front of them – No. 1 Clovis and No. 4 Harvard-Westlake – have had losses this week.
Both teams had chances to score early in the game, which was played at Klein Family Field on the campus of University of the Pacific in Stockton (where famed agent Scott Boras went to college). In the bottom of the first inning, Temecula right fielder A.J. Sawyer threw out Elk Grove’s Nick Madrigal at home plate as he was attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. Both teams then into inning-ending double plays in the top of the second and bottom of the second.
The Bears broke through in the top of the fourth. With Austin Del Chairo in to pitch for Elk Grove after Chris Martin started, a walk and a single by Sawyer gave Temecula a chance. With two out, Alec Garrett came through with an RBI single to score Sawyer for the 1-0 lead.
Del Chairo wasn’t threatened after that. He set down the Bears with just two hits and no runs for the duration of the game.
After not scoring in the bottom of the fourth, Elk Grove exploded in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Landon Gastelum was hit by a pitch, then Del Chairo singled to center. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, which was then followed by an intentional walk that loaded the bases. The Herd scored the tying run on a single by Carlos Moseley, then after a strikeout for the second out took a 3-1 lead on a two-run single by Dylan Carlson. After a pitching change, Brooks Day greeted Temecula’s Caleb Harmond with a double down the left field line that plated two more runs. The final run of the rally scored on a RBI single by Ty Madrigal.
Once the game concluded, Gerry Boras and Jeff Pries of the Boras Foundation presented both teams with awards and announced MVPs of the game for defense (Del Chairo) and for offense (Carlson).
The younger Carlson, a sophomore, is indeed the son of the head coach and is one of several standout younger players at Elk Grove. The team, in fact, only started one senior (probable MLB draft choice Derek Hill) in the title game.
“We always try to schedule about as tough as we can early in the season to see what we have, especially the pitching,” the older Carlson said. “There were some growing pains, but the younger guys coming back have done a good job. We’re also fortunate to have a young team with a great senior leader like Derek.”
And with such a young team, not only will Elk Grove be considered a prime contender to win the Boras Classic once again next season but probably will be on all of the invite lists for other major national tournaments, including the National High School Invitational held each year in North Carolina.