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Close, but no invitation for Trojans

We'll never know for sure, but Petaluma High's baseball Trojans may have come up just one run short of making the North Coast Section playoffs.

After beating Piner, 3-1, in the Sonoma County League Tournament semifinals, Petaluma's Trojans lost the tournament championship game to Sonoma Valley, 5-4.

Although Petaluma finished second in the SCL with an impressive 9-3 record, with two of its losses coming to league unbeaten champion Analy, the Trojans overall were just 13-13. They lost to Division 2 No. 1 seed Casa Grande, 2-1, and to No. 4 seed Maria Carrillo, 1-0.

When the original brackets were released Sunday, Petaluma had apparently squeaked into the Division 2 playoffs as the No. 16 seed, and was scheduled to open at Casa Grande Tuesday. It would have been a great match-up for the town and both teams. It could have been an excellent game between two very good teams and it should have happened.

It didn't happen.

With all the swiftness that marks our digital age, Petaluma was wiped from the NCS brackets, replaced by Pinole Valley, a team with a 15-12 overall record. However, the Spartans had an 8-2 record in their Tri-County-Stone League, good enough for a tie for the league championship with St. Mary's. By virtue of having beaten St. Mary's twice, Pinole Valley was the designated league champion and earned mandatory inclusion in the NCS field.

That meant that to gain entry into the exclusive club, Petaluma would have had to climb over 15th-seeded Montgomery from the North Bay League. Montgomery had the better overall record at 14-8-1, but was just 8-6 in its own league and had lost to Petaluma, 7-2, in a head-to-head meeting. The Vikings had also been beaten twice by Division 2 No. 1 seed Casa Grande, a team that narrowly scratched out a 2-1 win over Petaluma, getting just one hit.

We'll never know if these details were considered by the selection committee because coaches are no longer allowed to plead their own case before the jury. Teams submit a written application and the committee does its work without benefit of oral arguments, Nor will we ever know if a win over Sonoma Valley in the league tournament, a win missed by just one (for a tie) or two (for a win) runs would have made a difference.

We do know that if Petaluma had gotten into the playoffs, the Trojans would have been a dangerous foe for any opponent.

Would of, could of, should of makes for great speculation, but they won't get you invited to the dance.


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