Turlock Christian’s Rob York had one heck of a week … on a Wednesday afternoon at Robert Wyatt Memorial Field.
The senior second baseman delivered about seven days’ worth of production at the plate — 4-for-4 with two home runs, one of them a grand slam, and seven RBIs — as the top-seeded Eagles defeated No. 5 Valley Christian Academy 12-0 to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship game for the second straight year.
The defending champs (21-3) will take on No. 3 Ripon Christian for the title on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Islanders Field in Lathrop. The Knights (21-7), who beat No. 2 Woodland Christian 8-5 on Thursday to take that semifinal series 2-1, fell to Turlock Christian 14-2 on March 4.
A toothy grin halved York’s face as he recounted his day for reporters after the game.
“My approach today? I was just trying to see my pitch, and not swing at something that’s not me,” said York, who fired a three-hit shutout and fanned 12 in the best-of-three series opener Monday at Atch Pedretti Park. “And, I got it today. Twice.”
Four times, actually. His other two hits, though they stayed in the yard, were scorched.
But as soon as the subject turned to the section final and a potential repeat, the smile disappeared, and York’s game face returned.
“We’re ready for it,” York said, matter-of-factly. “It’s all we want.”
York’s cousins — senior pitcher Gavin Farinha and freshman first baseman Joe Farinha — were equally focused Wednesday.
The younger Farinha was 2-for-4 with a two-run jack and a double over the left-fielder’s head.
Wyatt Field is a mirror image of Boston’s Fenway Park, with the tall wall in right field and a “Pesky Pole” in left. The freshman explained that it can be difficult maintaining one’s discipline when playing in such a cracker box.
“I played at a field like this before and I was trying to hit a bomb every time,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder confessed. “I just want to think about knocking someone over. Hit a line drive, and if I lift it up, so be it.”
The elder Farinha, who, along with York, will attend The Master’s University in Santa Clarita this fall, was his typical, dominant self.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound southpaw threw his third no-hitter in his last four starts — he allowed just one hit in the postseason opener against Foresthill on May 10 — and the ninth no-no of his prep career.
Even though the game was shortened two innings by the 10-run mercy rule, Farinha looked as if he could’ve gone all day without surrendering a knock. He walked one hitter, who subsequently was thrown out trying to steal, and faced the minimum over five innings, fanning 11 of the 15 hitters who stepped into the box to face him. He was also 3-for-4 with a towering homer and a pair of ribbies at the dish.
“I’m not much of a hitter,” said Farinha, who seemed more eager to talk about his exploits with the bat rather than his outing on the bump. “I’ll start with my leg bent, and then I’ll (straighten) up and it makes me pop up. Coach pointed to my leg, before the pitch where I hit the homer, so I kept it bent and tried to stay through the ball … and got lift-off.”
The Lions (12-12) never were able to get lift-off against the Eagles.
Turlock Christian shortstop Beau Blake, a sophomore who was one of three freshmen that started last year, is now one victory away from starting his career 2-for-2 in section title games.
“I think we can do it,” said Blake, a lifetime .396 hitter who’s raking at a .465 clip this season. “We have the guys, the coaching staff, the attitude, all of it. I think we’re locked in — the best we’ve been all season.
“But, we still have to play our game.”
A sentiment echoed by Bill York, now in his sixth season as the Eagles’ skipper.
“We tell the guys, ‘Never be satisfied,’” said York, who owns a .748 career winning percentage and has guided TC to the postseason in each of his four seasons not abbreviated by the pandemic. “I mean, we’re happy with all our circumstances that God gives us, but in baseball, never be satisfied. Because there’s always going to be another game. And, at this time of year, never be satisfied. The work’s not done.”