By Bill Paterson
They are ranked No. 2 by The Bee, No. 9 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and have won 25 baseball games in a row.
But Oak Ridge (26-2) still feels it has something to prove, even after beating McClatchy 6-0 tonight in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener at Sacramento City College.
"We've got a chip on our shoulders," Oak Ridge coach Todd Melton said. "We've heard the comments that we're still not that good, that we have two left-handed pitchers and that's it. We beg to differ."
Said senior left-hander Kyle Porter, who struck out 14, scattered six hits and drove in two runs: "We haven't been getting the respect we deserve. I still think other teams are coming in thinking they are better than us."
Although considered the favorites, the El Dorado Hills school has never won a section baseball title. The Trojans went 18-0 in winning the Sierra Valley Conference, but skeptics believe Sierra Foothill League entries Rocklin and Granite Bay may be stronger.
Rocklin (the Thunder is playing Christian Brothers in tonight's late game with the winner to play Oak Ridge on Monday at SCC) has won two of the last three D-II titles, beating Granite Bay in the championship games both times.
"We want that section championship," Melton said. "But everyone is talking about Granite Bay and Rocklin. We feel our league is pretty good."
Porter is more than pretty good. The poised 6-foot-2 Cal signee has dominated on the mound and at the plate for the Trojans this season.
He came into the postseason with a 9-1 record, 100 strikeouts and 10 walks in 60 1/3 innings and an 0.81 earned run average. Included was an 18 strikeout, eight-inning 1-0 perfect game win over Union Mine April 16. Porter also hit .385 with a team-high 28 RBIs.
Against a gutsy McClatchy (15-13-1) team with only three seniors, Porter was smooth as silk.
He struck out the side in the fifth and seventh innings. He also struck out the last two batters in the fourth, stranding Lions at second and third. He did not walk a batter.
"He's a bulldog," Melton said. "His biggest attribute is he loves to compete."
Added Porter: "I knew McClatchy's hitters were going to be aggressive. I felt like my stuff was good all day. I had the adrenaline for the playoff atmosphere."