VACAVILLE — Maybe the third time is the charm.
The Vacaville Christian baseball team has found itself in the championships of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs, which will be played Monday at Stagg High in Stockton.
The opposition the Falcons will face is a familiar one. In fact, it handed Vacaville Christian (21-8-2) its only two Sierra Delta League losses of the season – Bradshaw Christian.
Falcons coach Steve Brassfield said it’s good to be facing them again.
“I love competing against them,” the coach said. “Every time we play them, they’re good. They are disciplined at the plate and choose the pitches they want to hit. They’re consistent.”
In the first loss to the Pride (21-9, 12-0 SDL), Vacaville Christian fell 7-2, allowing nine hits. Three hits came from Zach Rogers, who’s batting .426, with 29 hits and 23 RBIs.
Comparatively, the Falcons highest batting average with a minimum of 20 games belongs to Brenden Sweany (.397), the most hits goes to Josh Gardner (28) and most RBIs to Ian O’Conner (25).
Brassfield said his team is not just limited to one hitter, though, and they all can hit.
“Some guys have good days and some have bad days,” the coach said. “Whether the number one batter or the number nine batter, someone is going to do something that will create some offense. . . All of our players are hitters, it’s a team effort. If the first three batters aren’t hitting well, it will be the next three.”
The second time around, the Falcons held Bradshaw Christian to only four runs, but only managed one of their own, with just one hit. The Pride also managed to steal a total of 11 bases, something Brassfield said Bradshaw Christian does with a “high success rate.”
Knowing his team can compete with Bradshaw Christian, the only real advantage he said they might have against the Falcons is a mental one.
“I think out players think ‘Oh, great, we’re playing Bradshaw Christian so we’re going to lose,’ ” he said. “But I believe our team stacks up with them baseball-wise; roster-to-roster and talent-for-talent. We have played teams better than them and we have beaten those teams.”
Vacaville Christian has won nine of its last 13 games, with one loss to Bradshaw Christian in the SDL finale, a 9-9 tie against Dixon on April 16 and the one loss in the section playoffs to Woodland Christian.
After defeating Le Grand 2-1 in the opening round of the playoffs, the Falcons faced Woodland Christian three times, winning two games. The Cardinals were the top team in the Central Valley California League and Vacaville Christian defeated them 4-0 in the first game, fell 6-2 in the second and won 6-5 in the third.
Brassfield said now that his team has gone through so much adversity, their minds are now in the right place to be able to take on a team like Bradshaw Christian.
“(The players) now believe in themselves,” he said. “Fighting through the playoffs and coming out with a win, while battling against really good teams. They realized it’s not just a belief, they have actually proven it to themselves. They’ve come back from deficits, they can beat teams that are higher seeded. Now that they believe, it will come down to fundamentals.”
The Falcon’s pitching staff is also something the coach said he could lean on as an advantage as he has four to five starting pitchers in the rotation.
Vacaville Christian has five players that have pitched more than 14 innings and has a combined team earned run average of 2.44. Jeremy Wager-Smith leads all pitchers with six wins in nine appearances, with a 0.70 era, while Tyler Brassfield has the next most wins with four and an era of 1.70.
When it is all said and done, Brassfield said it will be a fun match.
“I think (the Pride) sees us as being that much closer to them. I think they respect us as a quality baseball team as we do them. It will be a close game and whoever’s day it is will come out the winner.”
Even Maxpreps.com knows the competitive nature of the two schools history. Under every matchup between the two, next to the box score link will read, “Rivalry Game.”