As the Gaels were wrapping up their preseason schedule, they were lined up to see two more perennial playoff teams. For the first time this season, the Gaels would play on the road at Kennedy High School in Fremont. The first away game. Last year’s meeting with the Titans was a battle until the end, where the Gaels came from behind to win in walk-off fashion. The Gaels were feeling good and battle tested…or so they thought.
Making his 3rd start of the season and looking to help his team find win # 6 was junior right hander, Zach Lydon. In the top of the first inning, the Gaels were unable to cash in on a two out single by Alex Gaela, and a double by senior Koby Seely stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd. The Titans then had their turn trying to spark a rally after a lead-off walk, however, Lydon was having none of that as he struck out the next 3 batters. The Gaels got the bats going again, and this time cashed in with a pair of runs. Eric Morales (earring problem now solved) started the inning with a 3-2 count single over the shortstop’s head into left field. Michael Cool, replacing injured Ethan Liao, then worked a walk putting runners at 1st and 2nd base. Elijah Lee battled, but struck out swinging, which brought up Gabriel Chamberlain who was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only 1 out. Nick Costello, taking a break from playing playoff basketball, stepped in the batter’s box. With a 2-2 count, he delivered a solid shot back up the middle into centerfield driving in Morales from 3rd. Still with the bases loaded, Fernando Sansone was at the plate looking for a pitch up in the zone he can drive to the outfield. He did exactly that as he drove in another run on a sacrifice fly to center, giving the Gaels a 2-0 lead.
Lydon now looked for the shutdown inning after the Gaels took the lead in the 2nd. Two quick outs were followed by two singles and a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Digging deep when he needs to the most has become a theme for the junior right hander, and he did so again by striking out the batter for the 3rd out of the inning.
The Gaels couldn’t get anything going to start the 3rd and the Titans got their first run of the day in the bottom half of the inning on a homerun to left field. The Gaels were then looking to get that run back, however were unable to do anything after a lead-off walk to Michael Cool, his second of the day. After neither team was able to score in the 4th inning, the Titans finally got their bats going in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Lydon’s pitch count was now at 71 after 4 innings, and the coaches knew this was probably his last inning. After a ground out to the lead-off hitter to start the 5th inning, a single and an error forced Dublin head coach Ed Dean to pull Lydon from the game. As Lydon was replaced by junior left hander, Nolan Long, he was embraced once again by his teammates as he exited the mound for delivering yet another solid performance. He might not have had his best stuff in terms of velocity and control however he competed at the highest level and gave his team a chance to win while leading 2-1 in the bottom of the 5th.
With 1 out and runners at 1st and 2nd, Long looked to get that key double play ball and get the Gaels out of the inning. On the 3rd pitch he got exactly that, however, the Gaels defense was unable to turn the double play and get any outs. With the bases now loaded, the Titans would cash in and get the big hit they’d been looking for with a single to shallow center field. Center fielder, Nick Costello, came racing in to make a diving attempt at the ball, but unfortunately came up short and the ball bounced past him. Two runs would cross the plate and the Titans were still in business with runners at 2nd and 3rd. Now trailing for the first time in the game, Dublin decided to bring the infield in and try to cut off another run from reaching the plate. Long punches out the next hitter on a called strike 3, giving the Gaels their 2nd out of the inning. With two outs the Gaels moved the infield back to it’s normal depth. Kennedy, now leading 3-2, delivered another big blow to the Gaels with a double into right-center field. Two runs would cross the plate and the Titans now in firm control with a 5-2 lead. Long struck out the next hitter and the Gaels gathered outside the dugout to regroup with their teammates and coaches. A consistent message was heard as the Gaels coaches continued to tell the team to keep fighting. It’s our culture, it’s everything we have trained for all year long, and to always keep fighting.
The top of the 6th brought on a pitching change for the Titans and the Gaels could not get anything going as they went quickly, 3 up and 3 down. Long would settle in after a long inning and short rest to send the Titans downs in 1, 2, 3, fashion as well.
What would come next was a true testament to the Dublin Baseball culture. This was an exact replication of how our program operates and fights until the very last out – Coach Oravetz
Still unable to figure out the new Titans pitcher, the Gaels found themselves down to their last out after consecutive ground outs from Costello and Sansone. Down to their last out and trailing by 3 runs, the Titans felt the game was in the bag. The Gaels however stayed focused on the task at hand; win each pitch. Alex Gaela stepped to the plate and hit a ground ball between shortstop and 3rd base for an infield single. Koby Seely walked to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Senior Scott Grier took his turn and after taking a called strike on the first pitch, Grier launched a ball deep into the gap in left center field. The Dublin players and coaches jumping up and down with feelings Grier had just tied the game with a 3 run bomb. The ball hits off the top of the fence and bounces back into play. Both runners scored bringing the Gaels within 1 and the score now 5-4.
Eric Morales took his turn at the plate and after falling behind in the count 1-2, and Dublin down to its last strike, continued to battle and earn a walk to keep the inning going and the Gaels chances alive. Michael Cool would then have his turn, and after falling behind 0-2 in the count, continued to battle as he worked the count all the way back to 3-2 and earned the walk, loading the bases for the Gaels.
The Titans, although unraveling, still within one out of clinching the victory against the Gaels. Head Coach Ed Dean decided this was another opportunity to use the pinch hitter, as he has done in a few other key situations this season, and called a familiar face to the plate, Justin McDaniel. You could tell by the look of determination on McDaniels face as he grabbed his bat and marched towards the batters box, that he was going to get the big hit the Gaels desperately needed.
On the very first pitch, McDaniel hit an absolute laser back up the middle, skimming off the top of the pitcher’s hat, bringing in the tying and the go-ahead runs making the score 6-5 Gaels! The Dublin dugout went absolutely nuts. The Dublin fans went absolutely nuts. Everyone on the Dublin side could really feel something special was happening with the 2020 baseball team. Nolan Long took the mound in the bottom of the 7th holding onto a one run lead. After striking out the first hitter he surrendered a single, giving the Titans the tying runner on base. Long then sealed the comeback victory with back to back strikeouts. The emotion shown by Dublin players and coaches was electric. High fives, hugs, smiles, cheers, and laughs all made the belief in themselves and this team that much stronger.
It was a comeback for the ages. So many things had to take place in order for the Gaels to mount that comeback. The reality of it all however, was that the comeback was delivered long before the Gaels were down to their last out and last strike, multiple times, in the top of the 7th inning. It was the culture transformation that began two years prior with the 7th period speed and strength class. It was the addition of strength coach Rob Blackwell. It was the support of DHS athletic director and administration. It was the new head coach Ed Dean and all assistants. It was the 2019 seniors who built the foundation. It was the 2020 seniors who built upon that foundation setting the culture of our 4 core values – show up, work hard, be coachable, and be a great teammate. IT WAS THE PLAYERS.
Player Of The Game – TEAM (it took every player staying focused and in the moment while down to our last out and strike multiple times during the 7th inning)
Dublin wins 6-5! Record 6-0 UNDEFEATED
The following day at practice was unfortunately the last time the 2020 Varsity Baseball team would be together competing on the practice field. As the Coronavirus pandemic rolled in throughout our world, there was a feeling of worry and uncertainty amongst all players and coaches. We have learned a lot about this team and the special group of seniors who sacrificed so much for the unknown. One thing for certain is that this team will go down as one of the greatest teams in Dublin High School baseball history!
ONCE A GAEL, ALWAYS A GAEL
Other notable players on the 2020 Varsity Baseball team:
Jack Sweeney – Starting pitcher (and starting QB for the football team). Jack was injured prior to the season, and had just worked back to being 100% healthy and ready to compete in games for the Gaels. Although the Coronavirus pandemic didn’t allow Jack the opportunity to battle for the Gaels his senior year, he left a lasting impression by the way he worked and how much he cared about his teammates. Jack will have the opportunity to shine in college as he’s earned a (very rare) dual sport scholarship for both baseball and football.
Ethan Lee – Relief pitcher and pinch runner. Ethan was a reliable pitcher out of the bullpen for the Gaels during his junior campaign and looked to have a similar role this year. He was a great teammate and brought a sense of positivity to the field everyday. Ethan was always willing to do what was best for the team!
Stewy Thalblum – Relief pitcher and left handed specialist. Stewy was lethal against left handed hitters and although he didn’t get the chance to show it during games in his senior season, we all knew what he was capable of and had faith he could get the job done. Stewy was one of the hardest working players, and a great teammate who helped shape the baseball program for years to come.
Avantae Spikner – 1st base and power hitter. Avantae was behind another senior at 1st base so he didn’t have many chances during the first 6 games. His power was on display daily during batting practice and he kept working hard for this turn to shine.
Andrew Hoffman – Relief pitcher, pinch runner, and the ultimate teammate. Although Andrew’s opportunity to pitch this year didn’t come to fruition, he continued to stay focused and worked incredibly hard. The coaching staff could always depend on Andrew for anything they needed and look for more players like him in the future. He understood his role and embodies everything it means to be a Dublin Baseball Player.
|Gabriel Chamberlain||Chabot College||Baseball|
|Koby Seely||Cal State Monterey Bay||Baseball|
|Jack Sweeney||Lawerence University||Baseball & Football|
|Nick Costello||Delta College||Baseball|
|Scott Grier||Ohlone College||Baseball|
|Fernando Sansone||Chabot College||Baseball|
|Eric Morales||University of Pacific||Baseball|
|Avantae Spikner||Laney College||Baseball|
|Ethan Liao||Ohlone College||Baseball|
|Alex Gaela||Los Medanos College||Baseball|
|Ethan Lee||Cal Poly State University||Academics|
|Andrew Hoffman||Loyola Marymount University||Academics|
|Stewy Thalblum||Las Positas College||Academics|
|Brent Boyd||San Diego State University||Academics|
|Michael Cool||San Jose State University||Academics|
Ed Dean – Head Coach
Greg Oravetz – Assistant Coach
Matt McDonald – Assistant Coach
Scott MItchell – Assistant Coach