Campolindo 6, Dougherty Valley 3
Campolindo High completed a remarkable three-year run with the team’s third consecutive NCS Division II baseball championship, downing Dougherty Valley High, 6-3, at the O.co Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
“You try to just think of winning one [NCS championship]. We were not picked to win two years ago or last year,” said Campolindo coach Max Luckhurst. “This year we were the favorite and everyone is coming to get you when you are named the top team. In the preseason we all wore shirts with targets on the back that said ‘embrace the expectations’.”
The Cougars played the NCS finals with championship level poise and focus.
Senior hurler James Marvel was unable to pitch due to arm soreness but stepped in as the designated hitter and delivered. Marvel was locked in on the Wildcats’ starter Cody Snider and churned out three hits to go with three runs scored and two steals.
“This has been the most amazing experience, sharing this for the third time with my best friends in the world,” said Marvel. “This is a direct reflection of the coach and players in the program and our dedication.”
Cougars’ sophomore starter Matt Ladrech was solid for five innings, earning the win before giving way to Tyler Luckhurst, who recorded the final six outs, in order, for the save.
“Matt played varsity last year and we had all the confidence in the world in him,” said Luckhurst of Ladrech. “He is definitely different from Marvel at 92 to 93 mph, but a lefty at 82, throwing strikes, that is all we needed. I just told him not to walk people.”
Dougherty Valley was able to tie the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, taking advantage of two Campo errors. The second error, a throw from the Cougars second basemen squirted down the left field line and allowed Brian Hsu to score.
California’s top ranked team (according to MaxPreps.com) bounced right back with a four run fifth. Marvel singled in Brett Stephens, after Stephens rocketed a triple off the right field wall.
Later that inning, Junior Denis Karas broke the game open, delivering a bases loaded double off the left field wall, scoring all three runners and pushing the Campolindo advantage to 5-1.
“I do not know if we can win four in a row, but anything is possible,” said Luckhurst. “We are set up awfully well for next season with Denis Karas, Robbie Tenerowicz, Matt, Cody Kiriaze, Trent Shelton, Tyler Luckhurst and Brett Stephens coming back. We have a solid core.”
Dougherty Valley’s left fielder Ben Polansky made the grab of the day, ranging far to his left to snare what appeared to be a sure extra base hit for Stephens, at the warning track in left center.
The Wildcats pulled to within 5-3 on a Tanner Pinkston double that plated two in the bottom of the fifth, but that would be it for Dougherty Valley as Luckhurst slammed the door shut in the sixth and seventh innings.