Placer’s patience pays off

Hillmen rally in the seventh to support Sanchez, who goes the distance to beat Bear River
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — A.J. Sanchez admitted to a little frustration Tuesday afternoon as his Placer High teammates struggled at the plate and weren’t exactly sharp in the field behind him. But down to their last gasp, the Hillmen delivered. Kevin Giles came up with a clutch two-run single in the seventh inning and Placer gutted out a 2-1 win over Bear River on the road. “I was getting a little frustrated, but I knew we would get our bats going,” Sanchez said. “I was excited in the on-deck circle when Kevin got that hit. I knew our defense would bounce back and it did.” Sanchez was terrific, even when the Placer gloves were not. The senior struck out six and allowed just one unearned run as the Hillmen overcame five errors. They also overcame Bear River ace James Harris, who was brilliant in his own right. Harris allowed just two hits before the seventh inning, when Eddie Vanderdoes sparked Placer’s game-winning rally with a one-out walk. Todd Valliere hustled out an infield single, then with two outs and runners at second and third, Giles stroked a single into left field. Pinch-runner Brandon Robison and Valliere sprinted in with the tying and go-ahead runs. Giles transferred to Placer from Del Oro last year, but was never cleared by the California Interscholastic Federation to play for the Hillmen (6-4 Pioneer Valley League). Instead, he practiced and refined his left-handed stroke at the plate. Now he’s a valuable piece to the puzzle for Placer, playing in center field, right field and giving coach John Hilton a solid lefty out of the bullpen. “We’re so happy for him,” Hilton said of Giles. “He wasn’t able to play last year, but he was at practice every day working hard, even when he knew he wasn’t going to be able to play.” Sanchez worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to cap his latest gem. “People always talk about Ryan Mason as our ace, but I tell them we have two aces,” Placer coach John Hilton said. “We have two guys that can go out there and shut people down equally. A.J. is just in a zone right now. He’s got tunnel vision.” Bear River (4-6 PVL) scored the first run of the game in the third inning as Andrew Reiss singled and took second on an errant pickoff throw by Sanchez. Jake Jarmin then skied a ball to the warning track in left field and the Placer fielder could not make the catch. Reiss scored easily on the error. The Bruins’ only other threat came in the second inning as they loaded the bases with two outs. But Sanchez induced a come-backer to the mound for an easy third out. Bear River coach Dahorl Ennis said the Bruins are hoping to rebound and make a run at the postseason with five games left in PVL play. Bear River beat league-leading Lincoln 7-1 on Monday as Troy Runte tossed a two-hitter and struck out four. Harris was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Reiss and Travis Anderson were both 1-for-3 with two RBIs. “That was a game that could go either way and as a coach you’re pulling your hair out,” Ennis said. “It was like a playoff game. Now we’ve dug ourselves a hole (in the PVL).” In the junior varsity game, Placer beat Bear River 7-1 as Tyler Gumms pitched 4 2/3 innings of two-hit ball and struck out five. Luke Knoble relieved and gave up one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Chip Mitchell went 3-for-4 at the plate while Jordan Wood finished 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Logan Markstein had a 2-for-4 day with a triple and two RBIs. Knoble was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Luis Burrola finished 2-for-3.