Mason helps Placer avert disaster

Prep Baseball
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The ominous clouds in the sky over James Field threatened all afternoon Thursday. Placer High senior Ryan Mason made sure Bear River’s threats were kept to a minimum.
The rain held off and the Hillmen avoided a disastrous start to the Pioneer Valley League schedule with an impressive 5-0 win over the defending co-champions.
Mason faced just three batters over the minimum and was perfect until Michael Raigoza’s single up the middle in the fifth inning. The Cal-bound right-hander struck out 11 and walked one.
“It started off great today,” said Mason, who drew a handful of pro scouts who clocked his fastball at as high as 86 mph. “I felt the touch early on. I can’t say enough about my defense. Michael Reale (catcher) played a great game. A.J. Sanchez had a diving catch that I thought was a gapper for sure. Todd Valliere was solid at shortstop. Everybody played great.”
Placer lost to Center and Colfax earlier this week, but the Hillmen had a renewed focused on Thursday. They jumped on top in the first inning against Bear River starter Jake Jarman. Austin LeBleu singled, stole second base and scored on a line drive single up the middle by Eddie Vanderdoes.
In the third, Mason helped his own cause. He turned on a fastball and sent it to the wall in left field. The two-out double scored Valliere and LeBleu. Kevin Giles followed with a single to score Mason and make it 4-0.
Giles knocked in another run in the fifth as Vanderdoes came around to score after a one-out walk. Jarman lasted 4 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Bear River’s only legitimate threat came in the sixth inning with two outs. Trevor McGhee drew a walk and Josh Toft followed with a single to right field. But Mason made sure there would be no drama as he struck out James Harris to end the inning.
Mason put the finishing touches on the game by striking out the side in the seventh, using a nasty curveball to finish it off.
Placer coach John Hilton said Mason had lobbied for a start on Tuesday against Colfax despite having a 102-degree fever. Hilton told him to rest and wait and the lanky senior was lights out against the Bruins.
“We’re so proud of Ryan,” Hilton said. “He’s worked hard to get healthy this year and he’s just shown great leadership all year.”
The Hillmen came up with nine hits on the day as LeBleu, Giles and Valliere had two apiece. They also scored all five runs with two outs.
“We had more focus in the dugout today,” Mason said. “We had a sense of urgency. Coach has been telling us to pay attention to the details and we took that to heart. We’re working hard and everything was clicking today.”
In junior varsity play, Placer crushed Bear River 13-3 as Chandler Skinner-Horne led the way with a three-run home run.
Jordan Wood was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Chip Mitchell had a triple and three RBIs and Riley Beames had a double and three RBIs. Luke Knoble was 2-for-5 with a double, Logan Markstein was 2-for-4 with a double and Tyler Gumms was 2-for-3 with a double.
Markstein pitched four innings of two-hit ball and Mitchell finished it off with two scoreless innings.
Center 7, Colfax 0 at Colfax — The Cougars handed the Falcons their first PVL loss as Nathan Lukes tossed a five-hit shutout.
Ryan Glazener pitched well, but took the loss for Colfax (3-1 PVL). Devin Eldredge had a solo home run and an RBI-double to pace the Cougars (2-1 PVL).