No. 7 Acalanes played the role of spoiler in the first playoff baseball game played in Del Norte in over a decade. The Dons jumped ahead early and were able to fend off the No. 10 Warriors for a 6-1 victory in the first round of the North Coast Section Division 3 playoffs.
“We gave them a heck of a game,” said Del Norte head coach Travis Johnson. “We had a few miscues that gave them a few runs and cost us a little bit, but overall we hung right in there and gave them all that they wanted. That is all I can ask.”
Acalanes got off to a quick start when its first two batters reached base and were able to come around to score to take a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors were able to settle down in the field after that, but they weren’t able to have much luck against Dons starting pitcher Doug Nimura. It wasn’t that Del Norte couldn’t hit Nimura’s pitching, however, it was his pick off move that had the Warriors puzzled.
“We are not used to seeing a lefty, let alone a lefty that has a good pickoff move,” Johnson said. “It was close to being a balk — it was that good. It kind of took us out of our running game. Usually we get a big lead (off the base) and we do lots of hit-and-runs and stealing. He kept us at bay with that.”
Del Norte finished the game with five hits and also drew a walk for a total of six baserunners in the game. Three of those runners got picked off, one got caught trying to steal second base, one scored and just one runner was left on base.
Senior Casey Nelson got the Warriors offense going with a leadoff double in the third inning. Napooi Shorty entered the game as a pinch runner for Nelson and promptly stole third base. Sophomore Austin Healy was able to bring Shorty around to score with an RBI single to cut the Dons’ lead to 2-1.
That was as close as Del Norte would come, however.
The Warriors made a few errors in the sixth and seventh innings. Three of the Dons’ four runs during that stretch were unearned. Although Del Norte made a few mistakes, Johnson was proud of how his team fought.
“Steve (Maready) threw a great game; Nathan (Porter) came in in the sixth inning and pitched great; defensively we played pretty good, and on offense we put the ball in play.We just didn’t find as many holes as I wanted to,” Johnson said.
The loss ends Del Norte’s season with a 16-7 overall record. The Warriors, and the senior class especially, have come a long way from their 0-13 mark in 2012.
“Going from 0 wins to 2 wins (2-10 in HDN play in 2013) to winning the league with the same team pretty much is incredible,” Johnson said. “I take my hat off to these guys for sticking with it and playing hard. We had a great season. They have come a long way. They know that they are never out of a game. They keep playing to the very end and they did that again today. I couldn’t ask any more.”