By DAN GOLDMAN
After battling through its fair share of ups and downs during the regular season, the Bret Harte High School baseball team is on the verge of going where no Bullfrog team has gone since 1975.
Thanks to Monday's 5-3 victory over Escalon in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal, the Mother Lode League tri-champion Frogs will have two chances to earn the program's second berth in a section championship game when the series resumes at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Zupo Field in Lodi.
"That was huge," Bret Harte coach Heath Lane said of his team's win in Game 1. "That puts a ton of pressure on the other team. Now they have everything to lose and we have nothing to lose."
If Bret Harte (17-9) wins Game 2, or is forced to play and wins a deciding Game 3, the Frogs will face either Patterson (20-6) or Calaveras (15-11) in their first section title game since losing to LeGrand in 1975's Division III final.
Trans-Valley League champion Patterson holds a 1-0 lead in its series with Mother Lode League tri-champion Calaveras after beating the Redskins 6-3 on Monday night at Zupo Field. Their series resumes at 4 p.m. today. If Calaveras wins Game 2, there'll be a rubber game 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
But before Bret Harte can start thinking about a spot in Monday's championship game, it will have to deal with the TVL runnerup Cougars (19-8) and their Game 2 starter, junior right-hander Zach Swass.
Although Swass was Escalon's No. 1 starter this season, Lane likes the matchup much more than he did against against the Cougars' left-handed junkballer Robbie Collins. The Frogs struggled mightily against lefties all season and did again on Monday night, scratching out just two hits against Collins and a total of three in the game.