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Gridley Herald

Bulldogs fall just short in Division III title game

May 31, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Shaun Holkko, sports editor

The Gridley High School varsity baseball team poses together for a picture. Photo courtesy of Josh Sannar

Gridley varsity baseball team loses to Sutter 5-1

GRIDLEY, CA (MPG) – The Gridley High School varsity baseball team fell just short in its improbable run to the Division III Baseball Super Regional NSCIF Championship, losing to Sutter 5-1 on May 21 in the title game.

The Bulldogs (21-10, 7-5 Butte View League) were given the No. 5 seed and had to play their way in to the playoffs, beginning with a game against No. 4 West Valley (14-11, 8-2 Northern) of Cottonwood on May 10. Gridley was victorious 10-4 over the Eagles. The Bulldogs scored six runs in the first five innings with two in the first, one in the third and three in the fifth to get out to a commanding 6-0 lead.

West Valley attempted to mount a comeback with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to trim the Eagles’ deficit to two. Gridley erased all the momentum gained by West Valley with four runs of their own in the top of the seventh to all but put the game away. The Eagles did not respond in the bottom half of the inning and lost 10-4.

The Bulldogs tallied 13 total hits. Two Gridley hitters, senior pitcher Aden Brothers and junior outfielder Michael J Ryan, had perfect days at the plate in five appearances. Brothers recorded three hits (one double), two runs batted in, one walk and one sacrifice bunt. Ryan tallied three hits (one double and one home run), three runs scored, three stolen bases, two RBI and two walks.

Brothers also had a strong day on the mound and earned the win. The senior tossed a complete game pitching seven innings, allowing seven hits, four runs (one earned), one stolen bag and one free pass with seven strikeouts on 104 pitches.

Gridley’s next opponent was a familiar foe and its toughest test yet, the No. 1 seed Sutter Huskies (25-7-1, 10-2) who won the BVL. The Bulldogs and Huskies met twice in the regular season, splitting a home and home series. Both teams were victorious on the road as Sutter won 7-0 on March 29 and the Bulldogs prevailed 9-7 three days later, handing the Huskies their second league loss of the season and first in regulation.

Sutter hosted the playoff battle with Gridley on May 13. The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first, plating two runs in the top of the second inning. The Huskies responded with one run in the bottom of the second and one in the third to even the game at two. Gridley then matched Sutter, scoring one run in the top of the fourth and one in the fifth inning to reclaim a two-run lead at 4-2.

The Bulldogs sealed the Huskies’ fate in the top of the seventh inning, scoring six runs to take an eight-run lead at 10-2. Sutter scored one run in the bottom half of the inning and lost 10-3 to the underdogs from Gridley. The Bulldogs narrowly outhit the Huskies 10-8 but made each one count.

Ryan nearly beat Sutter by himself with one swing of the bat in the top of the seventh hitting a grand slam. The junior racked up four RBI, two hits, one run and one walk in five plate appearances. Senior second baseman Alejandro Santillan had himself a day at the plate, recording three hits, three RBI, two runs and one hit by pitch.

Freshman pitcher Garrett Francis earned the win for Gridley by pitching six innings, allowing four hits, two runs (zero earned), two stolen bases, two HBP and one walk with four Ks on 85 pitches. Jagger Beck took the loss for Sutter. The sophomore pitcher tossed 3.2 innings and allowed five hits, two runs (one earned) and one stolen bag with four punchouts on 50 pitches.

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The Bulldogs moved on to the next round of the postseason and faced No. 2 Lassen (17-12, 9-1 Northern) of Susanville in a neutral site game played at Sutter on May 17. Despite being the lower seed, Gridley played as the home team. The Bulldogs scored first with two runs in the bottom of the first and one more in the second to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

The Grizzlies trimmed their deficit to a single run after plating two runs in the top of the fourth. Gridley put the game out of reach by scoring three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. Lassen scored twice in the top of the seventh but fell short, losing 7-4 to the Bulldogs.

Brothers hit a two-run double and senior catcher Cash Mills hit a two-run homer in the win. Brothers earned another win on the mound, this time pitching six innings and allowing three hits, two runs (one earned), two walks, two HBP and one stolen base with two strikeouts.

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In the championship game played at Butte College on May 21, Gridley had to face a team it had already beaten in its playoff run, Sutter, who advanced to the title game through the losers bracket after being upset by the Bulldogs. The Huskies played as the road team in the rematch and didn’t take long to get on the board.

Sutter scored two runs in the top of the second, one in the third, one in the fifth and one in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead after five and a half innings. The Bulldogs were able to scratch one run across the plate in the bottom of the sixth but that would be all they would get all game. Sutter would ultimately win 5-1, avenging its loss to Gridley from eight days prior, and winning the D3 Baseball Super Regional NSCIF Championship.

Senior outfielder Kaleb Davis tallied the Bulldogs’ only hit in the game with a double while adding one walk. Junior outfielder Aiden Gomez recorded the team’s only RBI on a sacrifice fly in the sixth to score fellow junior outfielder Andrew Engelmann.

Senior pitcher Connor Babler earned the victory on the bump for the Huskies by pitching five shutout innings, allowing five walks, three stolen bases, one hit and one HBP with three Ks on 85 pitches. Francis suffered the loss for Gridley. The freshman pitched three innings and gave up four hits, three earned runs and one walk with three punchouts on 55 pitches.

Sutter’s season came to an end Tuesday, May 31 in the 2022 CIF Division III NorCal Baseball Championships. The Huskies were given the No. 6 seed and played No. 3 seed Rio Americano in a neutral site game played at Jesuit. The Raiders defeated the Huskies 15-5.