A wild roller coaster season came to an end for the Analy
varsity baseball squad on Saturday, as the Tigers fell to Casa
Grande, 5-4, in the North Coast Section-3A title game.
The clash of league 3A rivals was part of an NCS championship
double header played at Santa Rosa Junior College that also
included the 2A clash between McKinleyville and Healdsburg, which
the Panthers won 9-7.
Analy (13-11) had taken the playoff tournament by storm with
stunning wins over highly ranked Maria Carrillo and Montgomery to
advance to the championship, while the fourth-seeded Gauchos
stunned number-one Marin Catholic and fifth-seeded Cardinal
With the victory, Casa (16-8) captured its third straight NCS
championship in an amazing run that has seen the team play for the
title in seven of its past 11 seasons under coach Paul
Analy, which last played for the NCS title in 2000, had nothing
to hang their heads about on Saturday. In a season that was marred
by frequent rainouts and streaky play, the scrappy, hard-hitting
Tigers used up every one of their nine lives.
³The guys did really well this year and it was a nice step
forward for our program,² said Analy skipper Steve Miller. ³It just
goes to show that even after a slow start, if you keep working
hard, good things will happen.²
Analy lost seven of its first ten games this season and hit rock
bottom on April 24 in a lopsided, 14-1 home loss to Windsor that
had the team mired in a six-game losing streak. The embarrassing
setback only served to ignite the team, as it went on to win eight
of its next 10 games heading into the NCS finale. Ironically, it
was the Gauchos who prevented the Tigers from winning SCL and NCS
titles this year.
Senior big-game starter Dana Amundsen climbed the hill on
Saturday opposite Casa Grande ace Kory Wallace. The Gauchos wasted
no time when a leadoff double in the opening frame led to a 1-0
lead. Casa took advantage of three consecutive Tiger fielding
errors in the third inning, adding an RBI double to open up a 3-0
The Tigers clawed back for a run in the bottom of the third when
Cameron Cook was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on an
RBI knock from Mitch Hackwood to make it a 3-1 game. Casa came back
with runs in the fifth and sixth innings to open up a decisive, 5-1
Analy woke up the big crowd in the home half of the sixth, when
they loaded the bases on an error and hits from Tom Walker and Evan
Gunter. Sophomore second baseman Ryan McCown followed with a
clutch, two-out, three-run double in the gap that plated three
runs, cutting the deficit to 5-4. But the Gauchos showed no panic,
calling on hard-throwing Eric Lebaron to close out a quiet seventh
inning to preserve a 5-4 Casa victory and the NCS championship.
Amundsen pitched well enough to win, but took a tough loss,
while Wallace notched the win for the Gauchos. Leading the 10-hit
Tiger attack were McCown (2 for 4, 2B, 3 RBIs), Walker (1 for 4,
2B), Gunter (1 for 1), Cook (1 for 3), Hackwood (1 for 4, RBI) and
Amundsen (1 for 4, 2B).
Team notes: the Tigers got tremendous clutch pitching
performances down the stretch from starters Amundsen (6-3, 3.88
ERA) and Brad Graham (5-4, 3.00). Other solid numbers were turned
in by spot starters Cook (1-1, 5.06) and Taylor Berenyi (1-2,
6.85). Top hitters were: Walker (.452, 25 RBIs, .712 slugging
percentage), Cook (.410, 22 RBIs, 20 stolen bases), Hackwood (.364,
26 RBIs), McCown (.360), Berenyi (.353), Daniel Albert (.329) and
Jordan Robbins (.324, 13 RBIs).

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