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Placer seniors seek to go out on top

Hillmen aiming for second section title in school history
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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After suffering a stress fracture the first week of April, Placer High leadoff hitter Jordan Arndt missed 12 games. “He had a tough time with it,” said catcher Joel Thys. “He missed our San Diego trip and he wasn’t on the field when we hit that sort of skid a few weeks ago.” Arndt has four hits in eight at-bats since his return — and the Hillmen couldn’t be happier to have their catalyst back in the outfield and at the top of the lineup. “Jordan does a lot of good things,” Thys said. “He’s such a good hitter, it’s more of a mental thing when pitchers face him.” Arndt, Thys and their fellow seniors will look to bring home Placer’s first Sac-Joaquin Section title in 16 years today at Sacramento City College. Standing between the Hillmen and the second section crown in program history is a familiar foe. Placer (19-8) split a pair of Pioneer Valley League games with rival El Dorado during the regular season. The teams shared the league title with identical 9-3 records. The Hillmen are viewing today’s championship as a decisive third game. “We’d like to see who wins the best-out-of-three,” Thys said. Thys, ace Matt Ross and Spencer Zaputil will cap four-year varsity careers after breezing past Foothill in the Division IV opener and sweeping defending champion Oakdale in a semifinal series last week. “We’ve been talking about what a big deal it is to win the championship because we’ve been a part of this program for so long,” said Thys, who will play at Long Beach State next season. Placer beat El Dorado 5-4 at home on March 20. The Cougars then beat the Hillmen 7-3 in Placerville on April 22, the first of three consecutive PVL losses for Placer. “We just hit a little rough spot,” Thys said. Since then Placer has won five straight and scored 28 runs during the streak. Thys anticipates plenty of offense in the title tilt. “I expect it to be a slugfest because they’re a great hitting team,” he said. “They’re the most balanced team. They don’t necessarily have Matt’s number but they know how to hit him.” The Cougars (21-7) will counter Ross on the mound with junior Chris Rickon, who boasts a 1.50 ERA and has allowed only 52 hits in 70 innings. The Hillmen haven’t faced him this season. Today’s first pitch is scheduled for noon.