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Roseville wins first section baseball crown since 1984

Tigers topple two-time defending-champion Rocklin in Division II championship
By: Kayla Nix/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Roseville High School had much to celebrate Monday — namely, defeating Rocklin 4-2 to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II baseball championship for the first time since 1984.

“I’m speechless,” Tigers coach Hank DeMello said at Sacramento City College. “I told the kids they have no idea what this means to our community, to our school. Twenty-seven years. The last time we did this, there were two schools in town — Roseville and Oakmont. There wasn’t a Woodcreek, there wasn’t a Granite Bay, there wasn’t a Rocklin.”

Rocklin captured the Sierra Foothill League title by one game over Roseville, but the Tigers won three of four meetings with the Thunder.

The teams were deadlocked until the top of the third inning, when the Tigers (22-9) went on the offensive. Blake Rivera hit a leadoff double. Two batters later, Beau Smith squeaked a shot past Rocklin’s second baseman to score Rivera with the first run. Smith stole second, reached third on an error and scored on a single by Dalton Blaser.

In the fourth, Roseville left fielder Garrett Nunally singled and moved to third on a double by Rivera.

Rocklin (20-10) called on Austin Dick to relieve starter Taylor Shores, and Braxton Phillips singled to load the bases. With two outs, Nick Blaser hit a hard single to drive in Nunally and Rivera for a 4-0 lead.

“This is the best feeling in the freaking world,” said Nick Blaser, a four-year varsity player with the Tigers and one of 12 seniors on the team. “This is what we’ve been waiting for since our freshman year. This is amazing.”

Scott Moller drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning and scored for Rocklin on an error. With one out and runners on the corners, Trevor McVey hit a shot to left field that Nunally scooped for the second out.

Ty Kennedy scored on the play, but Rocklin was unable to get anything else past the Roseville defense — notably Nunally, who made another spectacular catch.

Roseville starter Matt Maher allowed two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings against Rocklin, which won the previous two Division II crowns and three of the previous four.

“I wanted that last batter so badly,” said Maher, who even tried to shake off DeMello’s call to the bullpen. “It was two outs. That’s one thing I wanted. I wanted to get that last batter. … I had faith in Mark Reece to come in, and he shut him down. We’re a team, and that’s how we play together. I’m speechless.”