After an impressive playoff run, the Albany High School varsity baseball team fell 3-1 to Sir Francis Drake High School in the NCS Division III championship game Saturday night.
“It was the experience of a lifetime. The season and the brotherhood will stay with me my entire life,” said senior Avery Tonkyn after the hard-fought loss at Albert Park in San Rafael.
Coming into the tournament as the number eight seed, the Cougars opened the tournament by defeating Analy High School 2-1 thanks in large to a stellar pitching performance by Tonkyn.
The Cougars then proceeded to defeat the number-one seed Acalanes High School 3-0 behind a strong pitching performance by junior Clayton McDonald and impressive defense in the outfield by junior Chet Shemchuk and seniors Kaylan Sykes and Matthew Mino.
The bats came alive in the semifinals against the fifth seeded Alhambra High School, as the Cougars pounded 12 hits, including a two-run double by junior Jordan Williams, to back a strong pitching performance by Tonkyn and fellow senior Nathan Greco en route to a 7-1 victory.
The Cougars continued their solid play as they headed into the championship game against the Sir Francis Drake Pirates.
“We played in a very exciting environment, everything about it was cool. The Albany fans were awesome,” said Matthew Mino after the game.
To end the first inning against Drake, Mino made a spectacular catch in right field and followed it up by nailing the runner at the plate with a solid throw to the catcher, junior Cooper Morrison, who was a defensive wall behind the plate the entire game.
With the Cougars trailing 1-0 in the second inning, sophomore Jerry Gaitan roped a single to right field in the top half of the inning and followed it up by taking a hit away with a fantastic play at second base in the bottom half of the inning. The Cougars then thwarted a scoring opportunity for the opposition with a perfectly executed pick-off play in the bottom of the third inning.
Sophomore Cody Sim drove in the Cougars’ lone run with a single to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning.
The Pirates responded with a two-run rally in the bottom half of the fourth inning.
Junior Liam Knowles was defensively sound at first base, with a sliding catch in foul territory in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Despite a well-played game, the Cougars ended up losing 3-1.
Mino added, “We played the ball that it took to play a game at that level.”
Although they didn’t end the year with a win, the Cougars had an amazing season. They ended the year with a record of 18-11 and made the NCS finals for the first time since 2007.
Senior Tyler Caldwell reflected, “It really opened my eyes about life and letting go of something. I ended up realizing that what we had this year and the history we made.”