Pilots Fall Short in Championship Pitcher's Duel

Jonah Abrami--St. Joseph Notre Dame junior Cameron Murphy slides into third during the Pilots’ 5-4 victory over Redwood Christian in the North Coast Section Div. IV semifinal on May 25.

Pilots Fall Short in Championship Pitcher's Duel

With two future collegiate Division I pitchers taking the mound in the North Coast Section (NCS) Div. IV baseball championship game, something needed to bend. Ultimately, one run was enough for St. Mary's High of Albany (18-9-1) to edge out St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) on May 28 at St. Mary’s home field.

Panthers’ senior pitcher Noah Zirkle, who is committed to play at Fresno State next year, threw a no-hitter in St. Mary’s 1-0 victory over SJND in the championship game. Zirkle struck out nine batters and threw just three walks in the contest.

SJND senior Dylan Stewart also had a stellar performance on the mound. The Pepperdine University-committed pitcher struck out seven over six innings. Stewart gave up four hits and walked two batters. One of those hits he gave up was to St. Mary's junior Derrick Bedford. The shortstop hit a single in the sixth inning to drive in the only run of the game.

The loss ended an exciting season for the Pilots. They finished with a 20-8 overall record.

Before the championship game, St. Joseph pulled off a thrilling comeback to beat Redwood Christian of San Lorenzo, 5-4, in the NCS Div. IV semifinals on May 25.

The Eagles were able rough up Pilots’ starting pitcher Matteo George in the top of first inning. George allowed four runs, two earned, in the first. The junior rebounded and did not allow a run in the second or third innings. The Pilots as a team did not allow another run for the rest of the game.

SJND’s offense went to work after the first. They scored two runs in the first inning and a run in the third. Down 4-3 in the fifth, Pilot junior Cameron Murphy hit a two-out triple to put SJND ahead 5-4. Murphy led the team with 3 RBIs in the contest.

“I think it was just getting a job done,” said Stewart. “We were in a tight spot we needed runs. [Eagles pitcher Craig Yanagihara] is an unbelievable pitcher. We needed something.”

Stewart earned the save, striking out five in the last two innings.

"I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since freshman year," said Stewart. "We haven’t been to NCS in two years so I’m just happy we had the opportunity to get it done."

Along with Stewart, the NCS title game was the final game as a Pilot for seniors Lauro Perez, Casey Gorman-Miller, and Fernando Lopez. SJND held its graduation ceremony the day of the game.

Joshua Linville is the English and Publication Design teacher at Encinal High. Encinal High student Jonah Abrami contributed to this article.