CONCORD, CA (June 21, 2023) — Just as they did for most of this spring season, De La Salle and Clayton Valley Charter proved to be the best two baseball teams in North Coast Section by reaching the NCS Division I championship game. And as the Spartans have done for the past six playoff seasons, they won the Concord schools showdown en route to a Section and then a dramatic Northern California championship to run their post-season winning streak to 30.
The year’s storybook ending of the final game will be long remembered when Da La Salle scored six runs in the seventh inning to overcome top seed Valley Christian and earn their second successive NorCal title, even topping a spectacular semi-final.
Clayton Valley Charter and De La Salle floated at or near the top of the Bay Area high school baseball rankings all season before proving their value in the post season.
In the section playoffs De La Salle won its first two games in lopsided fashion 15-4 over Castro Valley and 9-2 over Liberty. Then they jumped all over rejuvenated Pittsburg for 10-1 and 12-2 leads before the Pirates scored seven unanswered runs in the final three innings to give the Spartans a scare before succumbing 12-9 in the NCS semifinals.
The Ugly Eagles won their NCS opener 9-2 over Diablo Athletic League rival College Park but then had to score a tie-breaking run in the fifth inning to edge James Logan of Union City 4-3. The semi-final was more routine for CVCHS as they defeated San Ramon Valley 10-1, setting up the all-Concord finals.
De La Salle jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the finals by the top of the second inning and the Ugly Eagles never got too close the rest of the way in a 7-3 DLS victory. The two teams met early in the pre-season with the Spartans winning by a similar 8-3 score.
Both teams moved on to the Northern California playoffs with De La Salle seeded second to Valley Christian of San Jose and Clayton Valley Charter eighth in a tough Division I bracket.
The Ugly Eagles trip to NorCals was brief as Valley Christian defeated the Concord school 7-3 after grabbing an early 5-0 lead. Clayton Valley ended the year with a 22-7 record and a Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division title.
De La Salle blanked Buchanan of Clovis 6-0 in its opener before edging No. 3 seed Franklin of Elk Grove 6-5 in nine innings on a Tanner Griffith single. Both team’s starting pitchers were 10-0 entering the game.
That set up 1 vs 2 for the championship. Valley Christian looked like they were going to prove their seeding correct as they took an 8-4 lead after five innings and still held an 8-5 advantage going to the seventh and last inning.
That’s when De La Salle exploded for six runs, the final four on a two-out grand slam by junior Hank Tripaldi, who struggled through the end of the season after his mom passed from breast cancer April 25. The slam gave the Spartans an 11-8 lead and they held on with five pitchers sharing in the mound duties during the championship game.
De La Salle has now won 30 post-season baseball games since dropping the NCS title game in 2015 to College Park 5-2 as they emulate the post season heroics of Spartan football, wrestling and other Spartan teams of the past and present.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.