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Placer Hillmen held to 1 hit in 10-0 loss to Rio Linda

Gregersen breaks up no-hitter in 6th inning
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The Hillmen didn’t get the results they were looking for.

But that’s not going to drag them down.

“Getting 10-runned on opening night isn’t something you plan on doing,” said Placer baseball coach John Hilton, after his team’s first preseason game of the year ended after six innings with a 10-0 loss Friday night against Rio Linda at James Field. “There’s little things here and there we can do better and improve on. The kids have the right attitude. This loss is disappointing but it’s not getting this young team down.”

Placer (0-1) went into the game intending to use a pitch-by-committee approach. Sophomore starter Tyler Gums, tossing his first varsity game, went two innings before he was relieved by senior Isaac Brahce. Brahce hasn’t played baseball since he was a freshman. He threw for 2 1/3 innings before sophomore Logan Markstein took over.

Though Rio Linda scored runs in every inning except the fourth, Hilton was pleased with his pitchers, who collectively allowed 10 hits and struck out seven batters.

“I was very happy with them because they competed and they didn’t back down,” the coach said.

Before Friday, Gums, Brahce and Markstein had never thrown in a varsity game.

“It’s early and they’re going through and learning things,” Hilton said. “We’ll get better.”

Offensively, the Hillmen figure to get better as time goes along, too.

Rio Linda (1-0) had a combined no-hitter going through 5 1/3 innings.

“For the most part guys are attacking it,” Hilton said. “We had a few strikeouts (5), but sometimes baseball happens. You hit the ball and the second baseman makes some plays. … Tonight was one of those nights where nothing was falling. We’ve got to shorten our swing a bit and take what the pitchers are giving us.”

Pinch-hitter Kodiak Gregersen broke the hitless streak for Placer with a single to right in the bottom of the sixth. That sparked a little rally for the home team, which nearly avoided the 10-run mercy rule from being enforced.

Following Gregersen’s hit, he was able to get to second on a wild pitch. Troy Taylor, who would have pitched the seventh inning, then drew a walk and Austin LeBleu got beaned for the second time to load the bases.

But the Hillmen couldn’t capitalize, ending the game with a strikeout and pop up.

The Hillmen had four errors, some of which led to unearned runs for Rio Linda.

“We did some things really well tonight,” Hilton said. “We were making decisions on the field which was really nice to see. Defensively, we were talking and communicating out there. We made a couple of errors here and there, some crucial ones with runners on base.”

The Hillmen return to James Field next Friday for another game under the lights against McClatchy. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Hilton said he intends on using multiple pitchers for that ballgame as well.

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel