Varsity Baseball Advances to NCS Semifinals!

The Varsity Baseball team beat the defending Division 1 Runner-up, the Casa Grande Gauchos, 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the NCS playoffs next Tuesday. The boys improved their home record to 13-1 and their overall tally to 23-3. It is the first time that Acalanes has made it to the semifinals since 2016 when the Dons won the NCS last. The coaches were as fired up as the players after Friday’s dramatic win!

Lefty hurler Henry Souza was a welcome sight on the hill in the first inning. Henry had not pitched in a game since March 14 due to injury. It was great to see him back on the bump for the Dons. He gave the boys a much needed jolt of energy heading into this critical contest. Henry threw 2.1 innings of shutout ball, giving up two hits and two walks. He shook off the rust and delivered for the boys once again.

Sweet Pete Thorn took the rock in the third inning. He made his fifteenth appearance of the season and it was another determined effort. He’s not called ‘Rubberarm” for nothing. Thorn went the final 4.2 innings, giving up no runs, four hits and a walk while striking out two Gauchos in a tight 63 pitch outing. Pete threw a combined 9.2 innings of shutout ball in the first two games of the NCS playoffs this week. Wow!

The combined Acalanes shutout was impressive, but it could not have happened without some stout defense when it mattered most. Casa Grande led off the fourth inning with a base hit, with the score still knotted at 0-0. The next hitter laid down a bunt that Thorn fielded and threw to first baseman Sully Bailey for the first out of the inning. The runner on first advanced to second on the bunt and tried to take third base on the play. Apparently the Casa Grande third base coach is not a football fan and didn’t realize that QB Sully Bailey played first base for the boys in blue. Sully fired a strike to third baseman Gavin Bender, like he was throwing a touchdown pass to Trevor Rodgers on a post pattern, to nail the runner at third, complete the double play and extinguish the Gaucho rally.

In the fifth frame, Casa Grande got another base runner on with one out. Thorn tried to keep the runner close as he pitched to the next hitter. On a one, one count the Gaucho runner took off for second. Don’s catcher Benji O’Rourke fired to second with a quick throw that tailed off towards the sliding Gaucho as it arrived. Second baseman Mason Zirkel and shortstop James Stadt successfully executed the old “who is going to catch the ball trick”, that resulted in Stadt snagging the throw at the last second and tagging the runner on the foot to end another threat, as rehearsed.

Acalanes outfielders amazingly caught fly balls to end six of the seven innings defensively. Right fielder David Gonzales caught five of those balls. If the ball went in the air it always seemed to find a Don’s glove. The team’s all around defensive performance was top notch throughout the contest.

Offensively runs were hard to come by. The Dons only had five base runners for the day. Benji O’Rourke, Gavin Bender and DH Ando Butner all singled. Keegan Goddard walked and Mason Zirkel reached on an error. Keegan also scored a run and had to endure the dugout gauntlet after tallying the game’s only score.

The biggest hit of the day was off of the bat of Gavin Bender. He came up with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, with runners on first and third. Goddard had led off with a walk and O’Rourke had advanced him to third with a sharp single to center. On another one, one count Gavin drilled a single to centerfield to plate Goddard and give the Dons a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish.

Sweet Pete closed the door on the Gauchos in the seventh inning that was capped off with another Gonzales catch in right to end the contest. The victory propelled the boys in blue to a semifinal match up with the number one seeded Granada Matadors on Tuesday in Livermore! They did it!

Of course no home game is complete without a full shake down of the student fan base. After some adjustments the loud and proud Dons Nation was a positive force in the house of blue once again. The outstanding season long support by Acalanes loyalists was a huge part of the boy’s 13-1 home record.

It’s on to Livermore. Let’s travel Dons Nation. Why not us?! Tickets are on GOFAN for Tuesday, May 21 at 5pm. It’s been a fun ride. Let’s keep it going. Go Dons!