Days after the Mountain View High baseball team won its first Central Coast Section title, some of the Spartans had yet to fully comprehend what they accomplished.
“I still can’t wrap my head around it,” said left fielder Gabe Harris, who hit a two-run double in Mountain View’s 6-5 win over Leland in the CCS Division I final May 25.
Head coach Kris Mims called the win “surreal” and couldn’t wait to continue the celebration with his players at the end-of-the-season party scheduled last Friday night.
“It hasn’t set in yet,” he said. “It will probably set in at the team party. That’s where I usually tell them, ‘It was a great season, but ... .’ Well, this time, there’s no ‘but.’”
There was a bunt, though – two of them, actually – that helped the 10th-seeded Spartans pull ahead of No. 4 Leland in the seventh inning. With the game tied at 5, Padyn Kesselring executed a sacrifice bunt that advanced Cae Cox to second. Cox – pinch running for Evan Nance, who hit a lead-off single – then moved to third on a swinging bunt from pinch-hitter Matthew Tseng. Joe Coleman walked and Mims replaced him with pinch-runner James Hoyt. Leland reliever Trevor Soe threw to first base three times to keep Hoyt close to the bag and the third throw went awry, allowing Cox to score.
Mims said Mountain View’s penchant for stealing bases (the team led the CCS in swiped bags this year) played a part in the pivotal play. The Spartans had already stolen four bases in the game and Soe seemed so concerned with Hoyt taking off for second that those three pickoff attempts came before he delivered a single pitch to the batter at the plate.
“We’re extremely aggressive and have a lot of speed,” said sophomore Harris, who had one of the steals. “We can go from home to third in the blink of an eye.”
Holding a precarious one-run lead heading to the bottom of the seventh against the top-hitting team in CCS, Mountain View turned to reliever Gabe Barrett to suppress the Chargers.
“He had a fresh arm – he hadn’t thrown in two weeks,” Mims said. “I just gave him the ball and said, ‘Your job is to just throw strikes.’”
The sophomore set down Leland in order, inducing two grounders and then a pop up.
“We love that guy,” Harris said of Barrett. “He did his job and we did ours.”
Leland got to Spartan starter Jared Norris early – scoring three runs in the first – but the senior co-captain persevered.
“He did a good job weathering the storm after that rough first inning,” Mims said. “In the second, he didn’t give up any runs. He kept battling.”
Mims added that he wasn’t overly concerned with the three-run deficit, confident his team could get to Leland starter Calvin Hsiao. Mountain View (20-10-1 overall) scored two unearned runs in the top of the third; Nance and Tristan Silveira notched RBIs.
The Chargers (20-8-2) put up a run in the bottom of the third to make it 4-2, but the Spartans tied it in the fourth on Harris’ double to left.
“I’ll never forget the double that scored two runs,” he said. “The crowd got up and my teammates were smiling at me.”
Leland recaptured the lead in the bottom of the frame on Kekoa Lopez’s sacrifice fly, which brought home pinch-runner Joey Contini.
After a scoreless fifth, Spartan senior Aran Cox drilled a two-out triple to score Harris and tie the game at 5 in the sixth.
Norris kept the Chargers in check in the bottom half of the sixth, putting Mountain View in position to take the lead with a single run in the seventh. Soon after Cae Cox plated the winning run, big brother Aran caught the last out.
A slew of Spartans scurried toward the mound and the celebration commenced at Excite Park (formerly San Jose Municipal Stadium).
“I told them afterward, ‘They can never take this away from you,’” Mims said. “‘You will always be champions and the first champions at Mountain View High.’”