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BASEBALL / JUNIOR COLLEGE STATE TOURNAMENT : Rancho Santiago Beats Sacramento for Its First Title


SACRAMENTO — Rancho Santiago, which had finished second twice in the last eight years, won its first State baseball title Monday with a 5-3 victory over Sacramento at Union Stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College.

The Dons (41-9) had been to the title game in 1986 and 1988, but lost each time. It was the third consecutive year Sacramento (32-6) has been second and the fifth time in the last seven seasons. The Panthers won the title in 1988.

"This has been a long time coming for me," said Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon, in his 12th season.

"This club gave me a lot of gray hairs, but they did what no other team has done. This championship is for everybody who has been part of our program."

Rancho Santiago led, 5-2, going into the ninth behind starter Jason Dietrich, who was replaced by Steve Thobe after walking Aaron Weinstein with one out.

Thobe gave up a double to Matt Whitley and a run-scoring single by Deron Spink but came back to get the next two batters to end the game. It was the 11th save for Thobe, tying the Rancho Santiago single-season record set in 1991 by his brother, J.J.

Sacramento, which was the top-ranked team in the state all season, led, 2-0, going into the bottom of the third. Rancho Santiago tied the score on a two-run home run by Derek Brown. It was his seventh of the season.

"He just hung a curve," Brown said of his home run. "This is an awesome feeling. This is the best. This is what we worked so hard for."

The Dons went ahead, 3-2, on a sacrifice fly by Tony Treul during the fifth inning. Treul was eight for 11 with two home runs, a triple and a double in the three games of the tournament. He drove in eight runs.

Rancho Santiago added two runs during the bottom of the eighth to go ahead, 5-3. One scored when David Gonzalez was hit by a pitch with a two-strike count. The other scored on a throwing error.

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