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Piedmont’s dream comes true with title

Note: Due to space limitations, my full story on Piedmont winning the NCS 2-A East Bay title did not run unfortunately. There were a few graphs cut off at the end talking about the great job done by Piedmont’s Bryce Chu to close out the victory. Here’s the full version.

By Jimmy Durkin
Staff writer
OAKLAND — Piedmont High shortstop Trevor McCalmont discarded his hat, called off his teammates and caught a soaring popup hit by Northgate’s Kevin Krueger.
Before he knew it, his teammates had formed a dogpile in the middle of the infield Saturday at McAfee Coliseum to celebrate the final out in Piedmont’s 6-5 win over Northgate in the North Coast Section 2-A East Bay championship baseball game — clinching the first NCS crown in school history for the seventh-seeded Highlanders.
“We’ve been thinking about this since Day 1,” senior pitcher/first baseman Jordan Remer said. “It’s just a dream come true.”
Before the season started, Piedmont coach John Nelson had expectations of winning an NCS crown. Several players listed winning the title as their season goal when Nelson made them fill out a goal sheet before the year.
‘I brought the sheets out today and said, ‘Here it is. You’re here. Let’s seize the moment’,” Nelson said. “It’s great for the school, it’s great for the city of Piedmont.”
After building a 4-0 lead on top-seeded Northgate (24-3), the Highlanders (20-7-1) nearly saw the title fall through their grasp.
Four errors, three walks, a passed ball and two wild pitches allowed the Broncos — who had just one hit on the day — to score five unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead. Remer, Piedmont’s USF-bound ace, was knocked out of the game after throwing 99 pitches. He was charged with four of the runs, with reliever Jeremy George allowing two inherited runners to score plus the go-ahead run.
George wouldn’t have to wait long for redemption though.
The Highlanders’ Lawrence Davis hit a one-out double in the top of the sixth, McCalmont followed with a walk and a fielders’ choice forced Davis out at home as Steven Deutsch reached first. George then unloaded on a 0-2 pitch and crushed a double over the left fielder’s head to plate both runs.
“I figured this was the time for redemption,” George said. “I went up there just trying to swing. I didn’t even see where it landed.”
With the lead regained, UC-Davis bound pitcher Bryce Chu — who earned the win in Wednesday’s semifinal victory against Campolindo — retired the final six batters to get the save.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous,” Chu said. “I’m just glad to be the guy out there to get the last out.”

Jimmy Durkin

I cover mostly San Jose State football for the San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group, but also fill in from time to time with the 49ers, Warriors, A's and Giants.

  • likethegame

    Do you think Piedmont will FINALLY get ranked by you guys? I am really not sure WHAT they have to do that they haven’t already done. They win NCS 2A but they’re not in the top 10 or even 20?
    Do you still think Piedmont can’t hit??? I think Northgate, Campo, St. Mary’s, and Concord found they could and they did when it counted.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    They’ll be ranked now, but there was no reason to rank the Highlanders before their post season run.

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Likethegame,
    Trust me, Piedmont WILL be ranked, I’d say somewhere in the top 5. We stop doing our polls after the NCS seedings come out and wait until the end of the NCS playoffs to do our final poll because obviously what happens in the playoffs proves who are the better teams. It’s the same as they do in college football where there aren’t any polls during the bowl season and then a final poll after the championship game. So voting hasn’t been done for three weeks now.

    Obviously, I’ve had faith in the Highlanders all postseason since I picked them to win all four games. So I’ll let my colleagues reply to their thoughts about Piedmont’s hitting. Any takers???

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Everything I know about Piedmont comes from Durkin.

    Their hitting wasn’t all that impressive on Saturday, but it was good enough to win. That being said, looking back at Piedmont overall body of work still isn’t all that great. They have a couple good pitchers in Remer and Chu and got hot at the right time.

  • Ballfan

    I think Kyle is being a little too hard on the Highlanders. They were more than Remer and Chu, but even if they weren’t, having two top pitchers of their caliber is probably enough to be very good in HS baseball. If anything, Piedmont did not over-achieve in the playoffs, but under-achieved during the regular season.

    Having said that, ranking is difficult. In my opinion, Piedmont is not better than a lot of teams that lost in NCS, and may not even be the best team in the BSAL, but they did it when it counted and therefore deserve a high ranking.

  • Swift

    I agree, the Highlanders aren’t that great, certainly not better than a lot of the teams that lost in NCS, so it’s curious they did so well.

    After all, their two pitchers entered the tournament with a combined ERA of something like 1.25 (although somebody told me recently that with baseball ERAs a low number actually might be good, sort of like golf — maybe you guys could straighten that out for me).

    And their mediocre pitching was somehow able to cover for the measly 30 hits they had against the 1, 2, and 3 seeds in the tournament. Again, mysterious for a team not as good as all those other teams that lost in NCS. It’s all so difficult.

    I’ve heard the baseball cliches: good pitching beats good hitting, and where you finish is more important than where you start. But those are just cliches, right?