Reale's walkoff hit lifts Hillmen

Placer edges Del Oro, 4-3
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Michael Reale picked the perfect time to break out of his early season slump at the plate. The Placer High senior drove a seventh-inning pitch into right-center field to give the Hillmen a 4-3 win over Del Oro Friday night at James Field. It was Reale's first hit of the season and it ended a wild game that featured two tough Masons on the pitcher's mound. Placer ace Ryan Mason overcame a bumpy first inning to go six strong innings. Del Oro's Alex Mason baffled the Placer batters with his curveball and struck out 15 in his six innings of work. Placer senior A.J. Sanchez pitched a perfect seventh inning, setting up the game-winning rally. Eddie Vanderdoes chopped the ball over the mound and raced down the baseline for an infield single to lead off. Ryan Mason drew a walk and Austin LaBleu followed with a walk, bringing Reale to the plate for the dramatic conclusion. "It felt very good," Reale said of the game-winning RBI. "The first guy that pitched, we had a lot of trouble with his curve. We really battled to get those runs off him and in the seventh, we were ready." Taylor Thomas and Zach Labar had back-to-back RBI-singles in the first inning to put the Golden Eagles on top 2-0 in the first inning. The Hillmen (3-1) evened the score in the second. LaBleu's single scored Sanchez. Kyle Wells had a single to score Ryan Mason. Del Oro (1-2) went back ahead in the sixth. A.J. Newby led off with a double and scored on a bloop triple down the right field line by Duston Richards. Placer got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth as Ryan Mason doubled, then scored on a walk by Todd Valliere. But Alex Mason got his 15th and final strikeout and induced a groundout as the Hillmen left the bases loaded. Placer coach John Hilton had a sore right arm from tossing his team hundreds of curveballs at practice Thursday. The Hillmen still struggled with Mason’s curveball, but they managed to scratch out just enough offense to win. “He has a great breaking ball,” Hilton said of Alex Mason. “We brought them in after the first inning and told them to think about yesterday at practice. I think after that we settled down a little and got some hits. We still got away from it a little after that, but they took what we practiced and made adjustments.” Placer followed up Friday’s win with a 15-5 win over Golden Sierra on Saturday night in six innings. The game was tied 5-5 until the fifth, when the Hillmen put up six runs. They finished it off with four more in the sixth as Kevin Giles went 2 1/3 innings in relief to get the win. Sanchez had a huge night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two triples and a double. He knocked in four runs. Vanderdoes was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored while Ryan Mason was 2-for-4 with one run scored. Zach Hersch added a triple and scored two runs. Austin LaBleu had one RBI and three runs scored and Brady Ranck had a single and an RBI. Placer (4-1) will open Pioneer Valley League play on Thursday against Center.