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Crunch time for America's pastime

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Baseball has been called America?s favorite pastime and it is most certainly a favorite in the summer. It, too, is a game of irony in which one coach said to me, ?It?s the only game where players are paid millions of dollars to fail 70 percent of the time.? Like softball, it?s also a game where players have to go up against all nine of the opposing players all alone. The only advantage, they get to use a club. In spite of its idiosyncrasies, kids young and old love playing it and watching it. As of Tuesday, in the Pioneer Valley League, Lincoln High held a half game lead over Placer?s Hillmen for the league title. The two clubs were scheduled to play each other twice this week. At 8-3 in league and 11-11 overall, the Fighting Zebras need at least a split with the Auburn club. Lincoln topped the Hillmen 7-6 when they met in March. Placer (8-4, 16-6) closes out its regular season with two games against Foothill. The Mustangs are 2-9, 7-14 and hold last place in the PVL. The Hillmen have won nine of their last 10 games. Lincoln draws Colfax for its final two games. The Falcons are 6-4 and 13-8 overall. They absorbed back-to-back losses to Placer but defeated the Zebras 4-3 in their first meeting, April 21. Rocklin has a tall mountain to climb but should make the playoffs. The Thunder opened a series Monday against Granite Bay. The Grizzlies are 8-1 in the Sierra Foothill League (16-4 overall) and a game up on Rocklin. In their last two games, the big bears swept Del Oro 14-0 and 13-0. Granite Bay?s only SFL loss was a 6-4 decision at the hands of the Timberwolves. The boys in blue are coming off successive losses to No. 3 Woodcreek. The Thunder is scheduled to wrap up the regular season with a series against Nevada Union (3-6 SFL, 5-14). Whitney High (7-4, 12-8) probably has the toughest row to hoe as the Wildcats are locked in a three-way tie with Rio Americano and El Camino in the Capital Athletic League ? for second place. The ?Cats lost their last two games against EC?s Eagles and open a two-game series with Cordova this week. Picking up two wins against the Lancers (5-7 CAL, 14-1) could prove critical. Cordova is in fifth place. It will then be a showdown with Antelope (8-4 CAL, 15-6-1). Whitney dropped its first meeting with the Titans 4-1 back in March. They were scheduled to play again May 8-9. Still, it appears odd man out would be Rio Americano. The Raiders close out their four final CAL games against Antelope and El Camino ? two games each. However, Antelope has four losses as well and one of those was to Rio. Three teams from each league will be invited to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs. I have to predict Lincoln, Rocklin and Whitney will make the big dance. They all have excellent coaching and the talent to match. However, youth could be a factor and they all fall into that category. The Wildcats have eight seniors, Lincoln five and Rocklin eight, but the Thunder carries 27 players on their roster.