Piedmont falls to Bradshaw Christian in regional final

Brandon Dicke dives back to 1B as Evan Rickert-25 fields a low pickoff-throw

There was a moment early on when it was apparent how Bradshaw Christian High School-Sacramento had entered the California Interscholastic Federation Division 4 Northern Regional title game with a 31-1 record. That was when the Pride opened the game with five consecutive hits.

Second-seeded Bradshaw Christian scored two runs early and never looked back, recording a 6-0 win over Piedmont on June 1 at Humphries Field. The Highlanders finished a terrific season at 19-10.

Micah Nicholson went 3-for-3 with two RBI and Landon Carter went 2-for-3 with two RBI to lead the Pride. “This year’s special,” Carter said. “It’s nothing this school has ever seen before. It’s a great group of guys, we’re a bunch of brothers. We battle for each other, we go for war for each other. We love each other, we’re a brotherhood here.”

Said Piedmont coach Eric Olson, “Obviously in these regional things, we don’t know a lot about that team and that team was super impressive. They had bats up and down the lineup. Balls hit hard up and down the lineup and found holes and quality pitching. All respect to those guys. They came out and earned it.”

Ethan Rickert and Nicholson combined on an eight-hit shutout with Rickert going the first four innings, allowing six hits and striking out four against one walk. Nicholson went the final three, allowing two hits, striking out five and walking one.

Pride catcher Carter said, “Our pitchers did real well today, they battled their butts off. All of them are a bunch of bulldogs on the mound. It’s just impressive. I’ve never seen a pitching staff that battles like we do. We just pound the zone, we throw strikes left and right. Defense and pitching does win championships and I think we have some of the best defense and pitching in the state for sure.”

Rickert had an arsenal of pitches. The right-hander rarely settled on the fastball, throwing curves and changeups left and right.

“On the scouting report, it said he threw 50 percent curveballs, which is a lot,” Piedmont leadoff hitter Peter Krumins said. “I went up there first at bat trying to think curveball and it didn’t really work out. My next two, I went back to my old approach, just be on time to the fastball and react to the curveball. But he located every pitch, the changeup was good. Both of their pitchers did.”

Said Olson, “In high school, if you have one pitch, you can compete, if you have two, you can win, if you have three for strikes, you can dominate. He definitely had a couple working. We knew coming in that he liked his curveball. And he would throw it at any time. He was fearless about it.”

Seve Sanchez took the loss, giving up six runs (five earned) on nine hits with one strikeout and one walk.

The Highlanders got out of the first inning cheaply enough, allowing just two runs despite the Pride opening with those five consecutive hits. That’s because catcher Will Parker threw out two would-be base stealers. Later, a Markos Lagios-to-Krumins-to-Parker relay cut down a runner at the plate.

Offensively, Piedmont had its chances. The Highlanders had runners in every inning but the sixth, had two on in four innings and had the first two hitters on in the second and third.

In the second, Brandon Dicke and Jack Meyjes led off with consecutive singles. Rickert struck out Jordan Vo, got Diego Delventhal on a ground out, then struck out Krumins.

In the third, Lagios and Parker had back-to-back singles, setting up first and third with nobody out and the middle of the lineup coming up. No sweat for Rickert. He got Dimitri Papahadjopoulos on a grounder to third with the runners unable to advance. Then, Rickert struck out Shafer Dando and got Dicke on a popup.

“I don’t know how to teach the clutch hit,” Olson said. “We talk about it. Hitting’s tough, baseball’s tough, sometimes it breaks your way, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes you hit a line drive right to the guy, sometimes you get a bloop, that ball’s in. That’s just baseball. We just stress to keep putting yourselves in those positions and keep putting quality at bats and hopefully, one of those will break. Today, for us, it didn’t.”

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