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Eagles’ season comes to a close in semifinal
TC baseball 5-26-18
Ryan Leonesio of Turlock Christian started and pitched four innings in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to Big Valley Christian during the semifinal of the Division-VII Sac-Joaquin Section playoff bracket. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/ The Journal

The 2018 spring season has come to a close for Turlock Christian High’s baseball team after Thursday’s 5-1 loss to Big Valley Christian in the elimination semifinal in the Division-VII Sac-Joaquin Section playoff bracket, but it didn’t end without some positives.

Positives that left first-year head coach Bill York and his staff eager for the following year.

“Absolutely it was a very successful year, blessed to be a part of a great team like this and to me it’s more about the kids,” said York. “We only had two seniors but it was tough since our goal was to hang a banner this year but we couldn’t quite reach it. But we have a lot of good takeaways.”

TC baseball pic2 5-26-18
Nathaniel Balantine of Turlock Christian runs to third base during Thursday’s 5-1 loss to Big Valley Christian in the elimination semifinal game of the Divison-VII Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. - photo by Eddie Ruiz

One of those takeaways was the fact that the Eagles were the best team in their conference for the year and won the title with ease.

They amassed a Central California Athletic Alliance record of 13-1, winning outright.

Their only league loss was to Elliot Christian by two runs.

Following that loss, TC went on to win six straight before falling in back-to-back playoff games this week.

The Eagles finished off the regular season with a record of 18-2.

The regular season success earned them the No. 1 seed in the D-VII playoff bracket where they opened up the tournament with a home game against Leroy Greene Academy on May 16.

They won that game 11-1 and three days later, the Eagles faced Valley Christian in the second round and managed to eke out a 6-5 win.

The win earned TC a semifinal battle with No. 2 Alpha Charter, and a chance to move on to the Section Championship game, but they fell 11-1. 

Unfortunately, TC finally began to see their thin roster catch up to them and it ended on Thursday with BVC.

“I am not making any excuses, Big Valley Christian did well, but we don’t have a lot of depth,” said York.

That depth was put to the test immediately for the Eagles in their first-round match of the D-VII playoff bracket.

They had to play without their top three pitchers.

“Coming into this tournament we were down our top three pitchers and one of them broken arm, and Liam Jones had a bad back and couldn’t swing and so we were playing with eight hitters, essentially,” said York.

Despite the thin rotation for the Eagles, they still made a run for the semifinal and were one of the final three teams in the bracket.

Following their mercy-rule loss to AC just two days before from Stagg High, TC was put into the elimination round where they took on familiar league foe BVC.

TC had beaten BVC twice before during the regular season, first in a 3-2 win on April 24 followed by a 7-5 win on April 27.

BVC scored one run in the bottom of the second then notched four in the third to go up 5-0 on Thursday.

Ryan Leonesio started for TC and went four innings. Micah Blomenkamp finished off the next two innings, shutting down BVC.

TC’s offense also left 10 runners on base for the game.

The Eagles saw bases loaded in the top of the fourth and two runners on in the fifth, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities.

Blomenkamp notched the only RBI of the game after he singled in Leonesio from third with a hard hit between the third basemen and the shortstop.

“Tip my hat to him he is a really good pitcher but I thought we put together some good swings and they got us,” said York. “I mean we had opportunities in this game and that is the cool thing about these guys that they went down swinging, they got a punchers chance even at the end to run into something and that is all we ask for, that is why we fight till the end, all seven innings.”

The Eagles close out the year with an overall record of 20-4.

TC is slated to return all but two players for next year’s team.

“What I am excited for is that there has been quite the buzz on campus about our league title and there is excitement for baseball,” said York. “I am hoping that it trickles down and we have a lot of kids come out for next year and might have a JV team to build some depth.”