The setting, atmosphere, competition and stakes were typical Sierra Foothill League, as good of a championship league as you will find in the state.
Fittingly, it carried right into the final section sporting event of the academic year.
And there was Rocklin, capping the year in grand style by downing rival Granite Bay 4-2 tonight at Sacramento City College to decide the Division II championship behind ace Matt Fielding, who won his 11th game with a complete-game effort and also had two hits.
The achievement comes after the Thunder won a section title in football and nearly stunned national No. 2 Servite of Anaheim in a state bowl game, and it came just over a year after Rocklin won a NorCal Division II basketball championship.
The baseball triumph is the second in a row for Rocklin and the third in four years under coach Roc Murray, all against Granite Bay, which won the SFL this season despite falling to the Thunder in two out of three games.
The crowd was terrific, spirited and overflowing, with a rooting section for Granite Bay that felt like a basketball setting. The Granite Bay students were fun and rowdy - and the best student section for a spring event I have seen this year. They were asked to remain seated in the front row as to not block the view of others by tournament director Hal Steinback, a former SFL title coach when he led Del Oro baseball. He was booed, but in good spirit.
Steinback grinned, saying, "I haven't been booed like that in years. Felt great."
The one downer was the very end. The parent of a Rocklin player - decked in Rocklin blue head to toe - brazenly paraded across the infield after the final out while Thunder players celebrated in the tradition dog-pile. The parent had a cam-corder and chose to film the Granite Bay rooting section and fan base instead of an up-close view of the dog pile. The parent then egged the crowd on by holding his Rocklin hat high. He made sure everyone saw him, stealing the moment from the players who earned it the right way.
When Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito rightly tried to wave the parent off the infield - the field is for players, coaches, umpires, tournament directors, not parents with ulterior motives - the parent never broke stride. He continued to film a furious Esposito as he walked backward toward the Rocklin dugout.
Had Granite Bay fans had the same sort of field access, there very well might have been a brawl. That's how absurd this act was.
What compels a guy to do this in front of so many? Maybe he pulled this stunt because Granite Bay fans booed Rocklin during pre-game, which is part of the atmosphere when teams are introduced.
Regardless, it came across as the most boorish act of sportsmanship I have seen all academic year, a shame considering it should not reflect on the administration of Rocklin, led by principal Mike Garrison and athletic director David Bills, or the students, athletes or a fervent community that supports its programs as well as any in the valley.
Bills cornered the parent and lectured him. Let's applaud that. The parent should also issue a video-taped apology to Granite Bay and study a book on sportsmanship.