Jets Win First League Title Since 2018

Kelly Quach   Encinal's Shaan Castro pitches against San Leandro. The senior gave up zero hits over five innings.
Kelly Quach Encinal's Shaan Castro pitches against San Leandro. The senior gave up zero hits over five innings.

Jets Win First League Title Since 2018

The Encinal High School baseball team emerged victorious in the West Alameda County Conference (WACC)-Shoreline League tournament championship game, defeating San Leandro High School, 4-1, on May 12 at College of Alameda.

In a pivotal moment in the game, Encinal starting pitcher Shaan Castro faced a batter with the bases loaded and Encinal leading, 2-0, in the second inning. Despite having loaded the bases with two walks and hit batter, Castro calmly worked out of the jam, getting the Pirates to ground out to end the inning.

"[That out] allowed me to rely on my slider more so I knew I could keep throwing it,” said Castro.

Castro (#12), one of only two seniors on the young squad, also worked out of trouble in the first inning, leaving two Pirates on base while getting the final out. The jam in the second inning was the last time the Jets were threatened in the game. Castro settled down following his early bout of wildness. He went on to pitch five innings of hitless baseball with four strikeouts and four walks.

On the other side, the Jets put immediate pressure on the Pirates’ starting pitcher Xavier Marquez (#11), who was named league pitcher of the year after the game. In the first inning, the Jets loaded the bases after singles by sophomore left fielder Anthony Wilson (#7) and junior third baseman Leo Paredes (#1); sandwiched around Castro reaching base on a hit-by-pitch. While the Jets failed to get the big hit they sought, they did score two runs when the ball squirted away from the Pirates’ catcher on two occasions, the second coming on a dropped third strike that allowed the hitter to reach first base.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Jets added another run with Paredes scoring on an errant throw to first by Pirate second baseman Julian Valdez who was trying to complete the double play. Jets’ freshman shortstop Evan Furuichi (#9) knocked in his team’s fourth and final run with a single to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“It feels great,” said Furuichi, who went 2-for-3 from the plate. “I think we excelled our expectations for this since we have such a young team.”

After that hit, Bryant Castillo (#16) took over for Marquez and pitched the rest of the game for the Pirates. Encinal freshman Kyle Cooke (#16) relieved Castro in the sixth inning and closed out his team’s victory. The Pirates avoided being shutout and no hit as they got an infield single to lead off the sixth inning. The runner was driven home on a sacrifice fly by senior Christian Orta (#7).

After the game, Wilson, the league player of the year, talked about how well his team played and what it meant to him to win the award.

“I think we played well and about the league MVP, I feel great!” said Wilson. “I played well, was hitting well and just need to keep doing things I have been doing and I might get it next year."

He also expressed confidence that his team can win the North Coast Section (NCS) tournament if they keep playing like they have been. He also showered Castro with praise, calling him “a dog on the mound”.

With the win, Encinal clinched a berth in the NCS Div. III baseball playoffs.

“Feels great to bring a banner back to the Nailhouse," said Castro. “Jobs not done though, got lots to finish.”

The #11 seeded Encinal (14-11) will face the #6 seeded Novato High School (16-8) in the first round on May 16 at Willie Stargell Field .

The St. Joseph Notre Dame baseball team is the second seed in the NCS Div. IV playoffs. They will face #15 seeded Fremont Christian in the first round on May 17 on the road. The Alameda High School baseball team (11-13) did not qualify for an NCS tournament.

EHS teacher Joshua Linville contributed to this story.

Kelly Quach -- The Jets celebrate winning a WACC league title on May 12.