By Joe Davidson
Ty Madrigal wasn't at his pitching best Saturday, in part because he's human, and it's baseball.
He walked guys, struggled to find his groove and pressed a bit.
On Thursday night against the same team and in the same venue, Madrigal redeemed himself. The junior left-hander tossed a complete-game four hitter, striking out four, and he relied on his team's typical superb defense to eliminate Rocklin with a 3-1 effort in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I-North loser's bracket finale at Sacramento City College.
Rocklin squeezed out four runs against Elk Grove in the first inning to snap the Bee No. 1-ranked Thundering Herd's 18-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory, thus placing the defending champions in the loser's bracket.
Ranked fifth in the state and still No. 1 in Northern California, Elk Grove will now take on Delta Valley Conference rival and Bee No. 3 Davis on Friday night. The Herd (25-5) needs to win twice to repeat as champion and to capture the program's eighth such title since 2002 under coach Jeff Carlson.
Madrigal walked four against Rocklin but he kept getting out of jams, either by strike out or letting his defense sparkle. Centerfielder Derek Hill made plays, as did first baseman Dylan Carlson, the coach's son, and infielders Nick Madrigal, Ty's brother, Brooks Day and Carlos Moseley.
"I wanted to play them again," Ty Madrigal said of Rocklin. "I was more focused, had a better approach. We've got guys making plays behind me, a great defense. We still have guys to pitch against Davis. We want another championship."
Nick Madrigal and Moseley each had sacrifice fly RBIs in the second inning for a 2-0 lead for the Herd. Rocklin catcher Eric Petersen hit the only home run of this tournament, clearing the left-field wall in the seventh.
The Thunder, winners of the Sierra Foothill League with Del Oro, struggled to score runs in the playoffs, including scoring a run on a wild pitch in being no-hit by Davis on Tuesday on a combo gem from Matt Trask and Trey Golston. Rocklin eliminated Oak Ridge earlier in the tournament behind ace Logan Webb.
Coach Carlson said his own pitcher was "lights out in the pull pen (before the game), then lost it a little (in the game) then found it. He battled and he let his team play defense."
Davis will start Brett Bloomfield against Elk Grove, and he, too, has a strong defense, anchored by standout shortstop Ryan Kreidler. In other words, expect your typical Elk Grove-Davis showdown with emotions, big plays and a lot at stake.
Elk Grove has a wealth of arms, including Austin Del Chiaro and Cody Barnes with ace Chris Martin still available for three innings after tossing a complete-game 6-1 effort to beat Franklin on Monday.
"We've got a lot of arms," coach Carlson said. "Plenty of arms. We have to let our defense work. Hopefully, we play our best against Davis."
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