Franklin High School has two anchor seniors of note, scholarship talents whom coach Mike Cody has placed all manner of great expectations.
Today at American River College, the leaders lifted the Wildcats of Elk Grove to a milestone triumph in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North baseball playoffs, and forgive the guys if they are still celebrating. It's been a long time coming.
Jason Taasaas applied a game-saving tag on a bang-bang play in the bottom of the seventh inning and battery mate Hunter Greenwood gutted out a winning effort on the mound and scored the winning run by just beating the tag on a head-first slide in the eighth inning for a 3-2 victory over Wood of Vacaville.
It marks the program's first playoff victory after some agonizingly close setbacks on what is called "Suicide Saturday" - otherwise known as the single-elimination first round. Franklin has posted five consecutive 20-win seasons under coach Mike Cody, but playoff success has eluded him.
"Feels good," said a relieved Cody, who as athletic director saw all 20 of the school's varsity teams make the postseason this academic year. "The last three years, I've been hard on Hunter. I hold him to a higher standard and I don't give him enough credit.
Today, it paid off.
"We've been here before and sometimes the breaks go your way and sometimes they don't. They did for us today."
Greenwood is the staff ace who moved to 6-2, with close losses to Pleasant Grove and Clovis West. He scattered five hits and got out of several jams, determined to clinch that elusive postseason win.
"This gets the monkey off our back," said the Sacramento State-bound recruit. "I've been waiting for that win since my sophomore year. (When I made that slide), I knew I had to score and thought, 'We've got to win this game.'"
Amid the joy of victory there is concern, however. Taasaas, the Pacific-bound catcher, had his right hand sliced by cleats when applying the saving tag. He will need stitches. Should Taasaas not be able to go Monday at ARC, Franklin's backup catcher is junior Jordan Johnson, who is also scheduled to start on the mound.
But don't tell Cody that Taasaas is down and out.
"I never worry about Jason," Cody said with an assuring smile.
Franklin also has impressive freshmen Tyler Blake (6-0) and Zach Saca (6-1) who can pitch. Taasaas is also a big hitter, with a .461 average, 26 RBI and three home runs.