NCS baseball: Upsets aplenty as tournament begins

What a crazy stat to the North Coast Section baseball playoffs. We got an 18-inning thriller that lasted two days, saw the defending champions in Division I and II eliminated in the first round and had the No. 16 seed beat the No. 1 in two brackets. This is the kind of excitement we get with single-elimination tournaments on the diamond.

The highlights of the opening round:

– The biggest shocker was without a doubt No. 1 seed and four-time defending champion Campolindo falling to No. 16 Casa Grande-Petaluma. The Cougars were playing at home and had Cal-bound ace Matt Ladrech on the mound but couldn’t scratch across a run and lost 1-0. Casa Grande pitcher Eric Parnow allowed just three hits.

– Campolindo wasn’t the only No. 1 seed to go down in the opening round. Kennedy of Fremont eliminated top-seeded Analy 2-0 in the Division III tournament on Tuesday. To be fair, Kennedy isn’t your typical No. 16 seed. The Titans were in the middle of their best season in decades before being forced to forfeit eight games for (mistakenly) using an ineligible player. Cal Stevenson dominated the host Tigers with 15 strikeouts in the complete game effort that earned the Titans a quarterfinal game with No. 8 Alhambra.

– Speaking of Alhambra, the Bulldogs were the only team in the upper half of the Division III bracket to avoid an upset to a lower seeded team. No. 4 Pinole Valley and No. 5 San Marin were also eliminated by double-digit seeds.

– Miramonte won a marathon against Albany in its opener. James Vaccaro delivered the game-winning walk-off hit in the 18th inning of a game that began Tuesday and wrapped up Wednesday due to darkness. Albany had scored in the top of the 17th inning, but three-sport star Drew Anderson singled home the tying run in the bottom half of the inning with two outs and two strikes.

– The East Bay Athletic League got a bit roughed up. All eight teams made the NCS playoffs but only five survived the opening round. Among the casualties was No. 3 seed and defending Division I champion Amador Valley, which was stunned by WACC-Shoreline champion San Leandro 3-1. The Pirates were the No. 14 seed despite posting a 20-win season. No. 4 seed California was eliminated by No. 13 Berkeley and Washington-bound pitcher Noah Bremer.

– One last note — and this is about softball, not baseball — only two teams qualified for the Division VI bracket and both of them had losing overall records. They automatically advanced to the championship game and a California School for the Deaf team that went 5-13 in the regular season beat Rincon Valley Christian 23-12. I think that’s a sign of too many divisions.

Stephanie Hammon