Brentwood’s Heritage High School baseball and softball squads both fell in North Coast Section (NCS) Division 1 championship games at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, last Saturday, May 25.
The Heritage softball team knew it would contend with the arm of Foothill High megastar pitcher, Nicole May, in its NCS Division 1 championship game. But the Patriots also had to deal with her bat.
The University of Oklahoma-bound May crushed a two-run home run in the third inning, in addition to dominating Heritage from the circle, in the top-seed Falcons’ 2-0 win, securing Foothill an undefeated 28-win season, and their second NCS title in three years.
“We played well,” said Heritage head coach Ron Rivers. “We had one hiccup of an inning where we had an error, but I thought we played well and fought hard.”
In addition to the homer, May shut down the Heritage offense, surrendering only one hit, a walk and a hit batter, striking out 13 in a complete game.
The second-seed Patriots (25-3) entered the game riding a 17-game winning streak, and had outscored their opponents 262-54 this season, including 12 shutouts.
Heritage senior pitcher Delia Scott did her part, holding Pleasanton’s Foothill to only the two runs on seven hits, and striking out three. The Falcons stranded seven runners in the contest, including two at third base.
But Heritage, making its first NCS title game appearance in 12 years, was hard-pressed to find any sustained offensive momentum, going down in order in five of the seven innings. Patriots catcher Julia Barnett drew a first-inning, two-out walk, but infielder Tianna Bell grounded out one batter later to end the inning.
Infielder Juju Sargent’s single — combined with Izabel Ordaz reaching first after getting a hit — put two runners on in the fifth. But May struck out Lyndsey Burrow to end the threat. May’s home run was doubly painful after an infield error allowed Amanda Mero to reach base to lead off the inning.
After Foothill’s Hope Alley flew out and Hailey Hayes grounded out, May made the Patriots pay, sending a one-two pitch over the right-center-field fence.
After the game, Rivers reflected on the team’s still-successful season.
“I am proud of this group,” Rivers said. “We left a really good mark. We went 10-0 in league, won two tournaments, took second in D-1. We haven’t been here in a long time. It’s a big accomplishment for the group.”
The Heritage baseball team landed the first blow against De La Salle in the NCS Division 1 title game. But the Spartans’ response put the Patriots down for good.
De La Salle’s five-run third inning erased a 1-0 deficit, and set the tone for what ended up being a long day for Heritage in a 10-1 loss to De La Salle.
“You have to take your hat off to De La Salle,” said Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan. “They are well coached.”
Ryan Jackson’s third-inning RBI triple gave Heritage a brief 1-0 lead. But then the top-seed Spartans (29-1) exploded, scoring five runs in the bottom of the third, three in the fourth and two in the sixth to spoil sixth-seed Heritage’s first NCS championship game appearance.
Spartan starting pitcher Kyle Harrison made life difficult for the Patriots, holding them to the run on two hits while striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings.
De La Salle relievers Cole Silva and Dylan White finished the job, surrendering only one hit and a walk in 1 2/3 innings of relief, to help the Spartans capture their 28th straight win and fourth consecutive NCS title.
“We came with the intentions of winning, and the better team won today,” said Brannan.
Heritage starter Jeffrey Heinrich held the Spartans hitless through the first two innings, surrendering only two hit batsmen, who were left stranded.
But De La Salle more than made up for it in the third, scoring five runs on four hits and two walks. Chris Santiago and Harrison’s back-to-back singles — scoring Jordan Wright and Nick Fusari — got the Spartans’ run parade started, giving De La Salle a 2-1 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Jared Amigh’s sacrifice fly, Keoni Coloma’s bases-loaded walk and a fielder’s choice increased De La Salle’s lead to 5-1. Harrison’s fourth-inning double, scoring Fusari and Blake Burke, and Coloma’s squeeze bunt later in the inning, pushed De La Salle’s lead to 8-1. Santiago’s two-run, sixth-inning homer closed the Spartans’ scoring.
Heritage (21-7) had bits of offensive success in the first three innings off the 6-foot-2-inch lefty starter Harrison — collecting its run, two hits, a walk and a hit batter — but were held to just two hits the rest of the game.
Heritage loaded the bases in the sixth with two walks and an error, but Silva struck out Chase Goddard to end the threat.
“Our guys were ready to play,” Brannan said. “I don’t think we were intimidated. We had one inning where we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them.”
The Patriots’ loss ends one of the best seasons in Heritage baseball history. The squad won its second consecutive Bay Valley Athletic League title, then upset third-seed Acalanes and second-seed Amador Valley en route to its first NCS title game.
“Now that it’s over, it’s easy for me to say I think this is a team that I thought could do that,” Brannan said. “There is no quit in this group. Even when we get down a bit, they keep fighting. Even today, there was no hanging their heads or anything like that. We just ran into a better team today.”