A Heritage High School sports fan glanced down at his cell phone Wednesday night to remark that it was "a good day" to be a Heritage fan.
Few could argue with that.
The Heritage High School baseball and softball teams won their North Coast Section Division 1 semifinal games Wednesday night to advance to championship contests Saturday against top-seeds De La Salle and Foothill, respectively. Both games are slated to occur at Diablo Valley College. The softball clash is set for 1:30 p.m. and the baseball battle at 4:30 p.m.
The sixth-seed Heritage baseball team defeated second-seed Amador Valley 5-1 to advance, while the second-seed Heritage softball team trounced third-seed California 10-0 in a five-inning mercy rule result.
First-year Heritage Athletic Director Nate Smith could hardly contain his excitement after the two games concluded.
"The feeling when both your baseball and softball teams are headed to the North Coast Section championship game," he wrote on Twitter, above a GIF of a jubilant man excitedly shaking his arms, bobbing his head and moving his upper body about while sitting in a chair.
“This is the first time in school history that both have advanced to the title game - the first appearance ever for our baseball program, and the first appearance in 12 years for our softball program,” Smith said. “They had both reached the semifinals in each of the last four years, so it is especially gratifying to see them both break through in the same year.”
The rare occurance of two teams from the same school in North Coast Section title games on the same day is starting to feel normal for the Brentwood school.
Heritage’s girls' and boys’ basketball teams accomplished a similar feat during the 2018 North Coast Section Division I playoffs, with the boys’ team capturing its first section title in a 71-66 win over Clayton Valley Charter, and the girls’ team falling to Carondelet 71-58.
The Heritage softball team (25-2) was dominant Wednesday night, scoring three runs in the first inning, one in the third and six in the fourth to slug its way to its 17th straight win and a championship game appearance.
Heritage’s Xiara Diaz went two for three at the plate, with two home runs and three RBI, while freshman Tianna Bell went 3 for 3 with an inside the park home run, two RBI and a run scored.
Not to be outdone, Heritage pitcher Delia Scott was again masterful while going the distance, surrendering only three hits and two walks while striking out four, just a game removed from throwing a no-hitter in a 5-0 victory over seventh-seed Carondelet in the North Coast Section quarterfinals.
“We were pretty focused today,” said Heritage head coach Ron Rivers. “The girls played well. We worked on faster pitching this week, it was just our time. We are due.”
Diaz’s home runs set the tone for Heritage, which racked up its 13 hits and all its runs off of California senior Lainey Hanehan.
Diaz’s leadoff shot over the left field fence gave Heritage a 1-0 lead, and her fourth-inning, two-run blast extended the Patriots’ lead to 6-0.
“I don’t (know what got into me today),” she said. “I just felt good out there.”
Heritage is expected to face a tall order in its North Coast Section championship bout.
Foothill (27-0) is ranked 10th in the nation by Maxpreps.com. The Falcons feature University of Oklahoma-bound megastar pitcher Nicole May.
Shortly after the Patriots' win Wednesday night, Rivers said his team would soon begin game-planning and scouting. But, first, the Brentwood team needed a little time to enjoy its win.
“Right now we are just going to celebrate this one,” he said. “It's (playing Foothill) going to be an uphill battle for us, but I think we are ready,” he added.
Meanwhile, the upset-minded Heritage baseball team (21-6) continued its postseason success with a 5-1 win over second-seed Amador Valley.
The Patriots scored one in the first inning, two in the second, one in the third and one in the sixth to cement their 5-1 win.
Heritage‘s Ryan Jackson went three for four at the plate with two RBI, Tom Rover went two for three with two runs scored and an RBI, and Keith Jones went three for three with two stolen bases and a run scored.
Heritage starter Cristian Machado pitched four innings of stellar ball, giving up only one hit, an unearned run and struck out three.
Relievers Reece Dexter and Jackson sealed the victory, pitching the final three innings, giving up only one hit and two walks while striking out two.
The Dons' one unearned run crossed the plate in the fifth after the Patriots had already scored four runs.
The Patriots have won eight games in a row, including a 5-1 upset win over third-seed Acalanes and now a 5-1 win over second-seed Amador Valley in the playoffs.
Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan said after the Acalanes win that he wasn’t surprised at the team’s success.
“I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but this team has been doing this pretty much all year long,” he said.
Heritage will clash with top-seed De La Salle on Saturday. The Spartans are 28-1 this season and ranked third in the state and seventh in the nation by Maxpreps.com. De La Salle’s only loss this season came in a 3-2 defeat to Mountain View’s St. Francis in the second game of the season.