CCS baseball: Menlo revels in emotional title for coach – The Mercury News
SAN JOSE — The spirit of Calvin Riley was present at San Jose Municipal Stadium.
After Menlo School’s dramatic 1-0 victory over No. 8 Burlingame in the Central Coast Section Division II baseball title game on Saturday, Menlo coach Sean Riley couldn’t help but think of his son, Calvin.
A former star baseball player at Serra High in San Mateo and the College of San Mateo, Calvin Riley was taken away by a senseless bullet at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park on Aug. 6 of last year.
Sean Riley, in his first year at Menlo, didn’t hold back his feelings after the game.
“It was an emotional win, considering losing my son eight months ago,” a teary Riley said.
Menlo senior Griff McGarry, who pitched 6 2-3 masterful innings to get the win, paid tribute to his coach not long after the game ended.
“Coach has had our backs the whole year,” McGarry said. “He has taught us so much on and off the field. He’s an incredible guy. It was an incredible tragedy that is hard to come back from. We couldn’t be more grateful we had him as a coach.”
It was the second straight section crown for the No. 11 Knights (19-10-1), who defeated Carmel in the Division II title game last year. Senior Chandler Yu, the winning pitcher against the Padres a year ago, received props from Riley — as did McGarry and catcher Ben Somorjai — for providing team leadership.
“They led in a lot of different ways,” said Riley of the trio. “They led by work, by talent, by daily skills at practice. I can’t say enough about them.”
The game’s lone run came in the top of the fifth when the Knights pulled off a double steal with one out.
With freshman Kevin Alarcon on at third and senior Justin Kasser on at first, Burlingame catcher Robby Harrigan threw to second to try go get Kasser, who ended up with a stolen base. Alarcon scored easily on the throw to second to complete the double-heist.
“If the catcher threw it down to second, I was going to go,” Alarcon said. “It was a fake-bunt-steal.”
The Panthers (14-13-1) fanned seven times against the Virginia-bound McGarry, who struck out four in a row early in the contest.
“A guy like McGarry comes around every once in a while,” Riley said. “The kid competes all game long.”
McGarry made one of the top defensive plays of the game when he raced toward the Burlingame bench to catch a foul pop off the bat of Emilio Flores for the first out in the sixth.
Because of a new pitch-count rule for high school baseball, limiting hurlers to 110 pitches, McGarry could not finish the game on the mound. Instead, he gave lieu to Justin Nam, who got the final out on a grounder for the save.
Nam reached base his first three times up after getting hit by a pitch in the first and singling in the fourth, before reaching first on an error in the sixth. Nam was thrown out at home in the fourth inning trying to score on a single by Nolan Peterson. The throw from Burlingame center fielder Savaun Brown was to the right of home plate, but Harrigan reeled it in to take out a sliding Nam on an extremely close play.
On a somber note, Menlo’s Eric Chang was in the dugout when he was hit in the head with a foul line drive by Burlingame’s Mario Vargas. Chang was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures.
“Eric is OK,” Riley said.
A lot of emotion spent so many ways by the Knights, who won back-to-back CCS baseball crowns for the third time in school history. It was the seventh baseball title, overall.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Riley said. “It was a great day all-around.”
It was a day Calvin Riley would have surely enjoyed, spending time on the diamond with his dad. No denying, Calvin was there.