De La Salle: Baseball State Team of Year

Despite the addition of the CIF NorCal playoffs this year after section playoffs, this is the fifth straight season (not counting 2020 & 2021) that the De La Salle baseball program has been able to have a big celebration after its last game. Photo: @dlsathletics / Twitter.com.


It wasn’t like the more dominant team of 2019, but this year’s baseball team at De La Salle of Concord won the first CIF NorCal D1 title in dramatic fashion over previous state No. 1 St. Francis of Mountain View and gets the school’s second State Team of the Year honor in four years. Other results fell into place to help the Spartans, such as previous state No. 2 JSerra falling in the CIF SoCal D1 championship.

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The athletic school year at De La Salle of Concord began when the legendary football program had its streak of winning games against Bay Area competition since 1991 end in a dramatic, last-second loss at St. Francis of Mountain View. A streak like that wasn’t on the line, but a final No. 1 state ranking and the nod to be 2022 State Team of the Year sure was when the Spartans played St. Francis last Saturday at home for the CIF Northern California Division I baseball crown.

In another dramatic, last-second result, this time the Spartans came out on top in the baseball game, 7-6, and they’ve also now replaced St. Francis with the No. 1 state ranking. Since the season is now over, that also means a second State Team of the Year selection for De La Salle in the last four years.

St. Francis put itself into position to get the final No. 1 ranking by winning the CIF Central Coast Section D1 title and by having a sterling overall season record of 29-4. The Lancers also were higher than De La Salle in local rankings, but an early-season head-to-head loss meant that the Spartans were given the No. 1 seed to start last week’s regional playoffs.

Catcher Anthony Martinez set the De La Salle record this season for home runs and was a rock-steady presence working with all of the team’s pitchers. Photo: Mark Tennis.


To get to the final, De La Salle first earned a win earlier last week over Del Campo of Fair Oaks (9-3) and then the Spartans won in a rematch of the CIF North Coast Section D1 final, 5-1, over Foothill of Pleasanton. In the earlier Foothill game, De La Salle was down to its final strike and trailed 6-4 entering the top of the seventh inning. And if the Spartans hadn’t come back for a 9-6 triumph in nine innings, their season also would have been over since the NCS did not have an automatic qualifying spot for its D1 runner-up and instead used a method (going by highest seeded finalist that lost) in which De La Salle would have been eliminated.

After winning the NCS title and getting the No. 1 seed in the NorCal bracket, the Spartans had moved up to No. 5 in the state. They didn’t win the title in the East Bay Athletic League and they had several other league losses, but under head coach David Jeans the team has always kept its focus on the biggest prizes at the end.

In a NorCal final that was similar to the NCS final, De La Salle trailed St. Francis 6-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. If the Lancers had been able to hold on they would have ended 32-4 and with a resume very similar to other teams in recent years from the West Catholic Athletic League such as Valley Christian of San Jose (29-3-1 in 2018), Archbishop Mitty of San Jose (31-3 in 2010) and Bellarmine of San Jose (34-4 in 2006) that have been State Team of the Year. Instead, the Spartans took advantage of St. Francis errors and a hit batter to load the bases. After one-run scored on a single by Donovan Chriss and another came in on a fielder’s choice, Ethan Dungo smacked a high chopper up the middle for a base hit that brought home the tying and winning runs.

“We just wanted to do what we do when we’re down,” Jeans said in a post-game interview with Scott Giorgianni of Prep2Prep.com. “We take a pitch for a strike, we try to take it one pitch at a time, put the ball into play. We did that, we got a break. We just plugged away. And the kids trust the next guy up.”

It still took some help for De La Salle to move up from No. 5 at the start of the regional playoffs to State Team of the Year by the following week. The team that was No. 2, JSerra of San Juan Capistrano, was looking to add the CIF SoCal D1 title to the CIF Southern Section title that the Lions had won earlier. They did have nine early-season losses, but had won 21 of 22 games facing very strong competition entering their game last Saturday against Huntington Beach and lost in a heart-breaker, 2-0, in eight innings. A couple of pitches here and there, plus a two-run homer by HB’s Ralph Velazquez was all it took. Previous state No. 3 Villa Park also could have moved up with wins its last two games, but the SoCal Boras Classic champs lost in the D1 SoCal semifinals to Huntington Beach. The Oilers, meanwhile, will be coming up from their previous No. 9 state ranking to at least No. 3 in the final rankings at 25-9.

St. Francis also had a role when De La Salle was last No. 1 in the state in 2019. The Lancers were the only team that the Spartans lost to, which was in the second game of the season. They went on to win their fourth straight NCS D1 title and finished on a 28-game winning streak. Even without regional playoffs, it was easy to see the greatness of that squad with a 29-1 record. This year’s team didn’t have a resume like that, but showed the type of toughness and togetherness that made it just as memorable for Jeans.

“I think this team had to battle a little bit more,” Jeans told Prep2Prep in reference to past Spartan teams. “In terms of grittiness and leadership that you guys you don’t see, I think they’re number one.”

With returnees such as UCLA-bound pitcher Cal Randall, hard-hitting first baseman Conner Harrison and outfielders Kai Smith (the hero in the NCS title win over Foothill) and Ryan Griffin (made a diving catch vs St. Francis still getting attention on social media), De La Salle probably will be in the NCS playoffs again next season. And when that happens, the Spartans will be taking a 23-game playoff win streak into it. That’s a streak that dates back to the NCS D1 final from 2015 (loss was to State Team of the Year College Park) and who knows if that streak would be even longer if the 2020 season (other than a few games) and the 2021 NCS playoffs had not been wiped out by COVID.

CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-TIME
STATE BASEBALL TEAMS OF THE YEAR

(All teams listed prior to 1980 based on research by our founder,
the late Nelson Tennis)

Former MLB player Jack Wilson was the head coach in 2021 for No. 1 Thousand Oaks. That’s the high school he’s from, too. Photo: tohslancerbaseball.com.


2022 – Concord De La Salle (27-6)
2021 – Thousand Oaks (29-1)
2020 – No Selection (Pandemic)
2019 – Concord De La Salle (29-1)
2018 – San Jose Valley Christian (29-3-1)
2017 – Chula Vista Eastlake (32-4)
2016 – Clovis Buchanan (30-1)
2015 – Pleasant Hill College Park (26-4)
2014 – Clovis (33-5)
2013 – North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (28-4)
2012 – Vista (31-4)
2011 – Clovis Buchanan (30-2)
2010 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-3)
2009 – Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley (26-6)
2008 – Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (27-4)
2007 – Long Beach Wilson (31-3)
2006 – San Jose Bellarmine (34-4)
2005 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (28-4)
2004 – Chatsworth (35-0)
2003 – Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (32-1)
2002 – La Puente Bishop Amat (28-2)
2001 – La Puente Bishop Amat (27-2)
2000 – San Diego Rancho Bernardo (30-3)
1999 – Riverside Arlington (29-2)
1998 – Clovis (33-2)
1997 – Clovis (32-2) (plus one win by default)
1996 – Granada Hills Kennedy (31-3)
1995 – Fountain Valley (26-3-1)
1994 – Fountain Valley (27-3-1)
1993 – Fresno Bullard (26-3-1)
1992 – San Diego Mira Mesa (26-5)
1991 – Ontario (26-0)
1990 – Cupertino Monta Vista (27-3)
1989 – Fresno Bullard (28-2)
1988 – Fresno Bullard (29-1)
1987 – Lakewood (25-7)
1986 – Santee Santana (26-2)
1985 – Oxnard Rio Mesa (27-3)
1984 – Rancho Cordova (33-5-1)
1983 – El Cerrito (27-1)
1982 – San Diego Mt. Carmel (24-2)
1981 – Westminster (23-4)
1980 – Fresno Bullard (29-2)
1979 – Visalia Mt. Whitney (20-3)
1978 – Larkspur Redwood (30-5)
1977 – West Covina Edgewood (29-1)
1976 – Lakewood (22-4-1)
1975 – Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-3)
1974 – Torrance North (26-6-1)
1973 – El Segundo (30-5)
1972 – Venice (19-3)
1971 – El Segundo (33-2)
1970 – Lompoc (27-1)
1969 – Sacramento Grant (16-1)
1968 – Fresno Hoover (27-3)
1967 – Long Beach Millikan (20-4)
1966 – El Segundo (24-4-1)
1965 – San Diego Crawford (22-4)
1964 – Lynwood (23-2)
1963 – Long Beach Poly (21-4)
1962 – Sacramento Bishop Armstrong (22-2)
1961 – S.F. Sacred Heart (32-2-1)
1960 – Fresno Roosevelt (20-2)
1959 – S.F. St. Ignatius (28-3)
1958 – Fresno (25-1)
1957 – Fresno (22-2)
1956 – Ontario Chaffey (21-5)
1955 – South Gate (17-2)
1954 – L.A. Loyola (22-5)
1953 – Compton (23-2)
1952 – S.F. Sacred Heart (29-5)
1951 – Sacramento McClatchy (22-0-1)
1950 – Long Beach Wilson (24-3)
1949 – San Diego (29-3)
1948 – San Diego (26-3)
1947 – S.F. Mission (12-1)*
1946 – San Diego (24-7)
1945 – S.F. Mission (10-0, League)
1944 – S.F. Mission (9-0, League)
1943 – L.A. Fremont (13-1)
1942 – San Diego Hoover (13-0 vs. prep teams)
1941 – S.F. Galileo (12-1)*
1940 – S.F. Mission (11-1)*
1939 – San Diego (20-5)
1938 – Glendale (4-0, Playoffs)
1937 – S.F. Commerce (12-2, League)
1936 – Long Beach Poly (23-2)
1935 – Sacramento (20-1)
1934 – S.F. Mission (7-0, League)
1933 – Fresno Roosevelt (20 -2)
1932 – San Diego (11-4)
1931 – S.F. Mission (8-0, League)
1930 – San Diego (19-3)
1929 – San Diego (31-5)
1928 – San Diego (22-8-1)
1927 – Fullerton (29-5-1)
1926 – Alameda (21-1)
1925 – Los Angeles (6-0, League)
1924 – S.F. Sacred Heart (6-0)*
1923 – San Diego (15-4)
1922 – S.F. Mission (6-1)*
1921 – San Diego (18-5-2)
1920 – San Diego (13-1)
1919 – Oakland Technical (8-0)*
1918 – San Diego (12-6)
1917 – San Diego (12-1)
1916 – S.F. Poly (7-0, League)
1915 – S.F. Sacred Heart (5-0)*
1914 – S.F. Lowell (6-0)*
1913 – Long Beach Poly (19-3-1)
1912 – Long Beach Poly (17-5)
1911 – S.F. Sacred Heart (5-0)*
1910 – S.F. Sacred Heart (8-0)*
1909 – Alameda (5-0)*
1908 – Palo Alto (4-0)*
1907 – Alameda (5-1)*
1906 – S.F. Lick (1-0 League)**
1905 – S.F. Lick (9-1-1)*
1904 – Palo Alto
1903 – Berkeley
1902 – S.F. Lowell
1901 – Berkeley
1900 – S.F. Cogswell
1899 – Palo Alto (5-0)
*Record for league and playoff games only.
** Playoffs and remainder of league schedule were cancelled due to earthquake.
Lick’s 1906 team was regarded as being better than its 1905 team.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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