Dragons dramatic NCS run derailed by No. 1 San Marin in semifinals, season ends
Three Sonoma seniors, coach in Sunday’s all-star game at SRJC
Sonoma’s junior catcher Sam Morgan dives in an attempt to make a tag at home plate during the fourth-seeded Dragons’ NCS Division-3 semifinal loss to top-seeded San Marin Wednesday afternoon in Novato.
Providing a touch more of the close, late-game dramatics that have produced both a surprising and impressive second-half run through their season and deep into the postseason, the young Sonoma Valley High School varsity baseball boys put together another nail-biting comeback in the North Coast Section Division-3 playoffs.
After rallying to win their NCS-opener at 13th-seeded Eureka, then breaking a scoreless tie with five sixth-inning runs to beat 12th-seeded Novato in the quarterfinals, the fourth-seeded Dragons again staged a rally, this time from a 3-0 deficit, to pull even with top-seeded San Marin in Wednesday’s NCS semifinal in Novato.
But this time the final curtain didn’t come down in winning fashion for Sonoma, which couldn’t plate the go-ahead run when it had its chance in the top of the fifth-inning.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs – who were off and running and scored a majority of their runs off stolen bases, wild pitches and a throwing error – broke free for a single run in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth and held on for a 5-3 victory.
With the NCS Division-3 semifinal loss, the Dragons end their season with a hard-earned 17-9 record, which, after starting the season with just three wins in the first seven games, turned the tide with determination, heart, desire, and plenty of pitching efficiency and effectiveness.
“We weren’t sure what we would get from our young talent when we started, and after going 3-4 through the first seven games of the season, it didn’t look like we would find a team identity. But something changed with these kids – basically, they calmed down – and they pulled together and turned their season around to finish 17-9, which says a lot about the character of this team,” said Sonoma head coach Don Lyons, who’s assisted by coaches Mario Alioto, Jody Ray, Joe Schiebold and Dave Studdert. “San Marin’s an excellent team which we were fortunate to beat the first time we played. But this time they came out aggressively and ran wild on the bases, keeping the pressure on us. We still had a chance to win, but just couldn’t get it done this time. Hopefully, this experience pays off with our young players next season.”
Comprising the Sonoma varsity baseball boys’ 2011 postseason roster were seniors Sam Alton, Kevin Deely, Sean Daly, Steven McGunagle and Alec Berthoud; juniors Sam Morgan, Will Rose, Chris Swanson, Chandler Kelley, Michael Hernandez, Colin Clyde, Sam Keechler, Ryan Matteo and Will Murphy; sophomores Jonah Son and Brennan Cole; and freshman Dan Deely.
In a rained-out nonleague make-up game at the end of the regular season, the Dragons nipped NCS Division-3 top-ranked San Marin 3-2 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning after being no-hit through six frames.
With right-handed ace Alton on the mound – where he would stay for another impressive complete-game performance – nobody panicked when he again started slow, but then started pitching with command and would end up yielding only five hits in the game.
So, when Sonoma, trailing 3-0, rallied for two runs in the top of the third and another in the top of the fourth to tie the score, the Mustangs and their aggressive base-stealing and at-bats, seemed suddenly stalled.
The three Dragon runs were the result of Dan Deely tripling to right-field, Daly walking, and both scoring on a balk and an RBI-sacrifice fly by Kevin Deely, respectively, followed by Swanson doubling to left-field and scoring on Kelley’s RBI single.
Leading Sonoma offensively were Dan Deely’s triple and a run scored; Swanson’s double and a run; Kelley’s single and RBI; a single each by Cole, Son and Rose; and Daly’s run.
Sonoma head coach Lyons and players Alton, Daly and Kevin Deely will be on the Sonoma County League all-star team for this Sunday’s, June 5, Santa Rosa Kiwanis Club's 15th annual High School Senior All-Star Baseball Game between the SCL and North Bay League at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Cook Sypher Field.