CONCORD – Saturday’s North Coast Section Division V baseball championship at Concord High had a little bit of everything except for a homer – excellent pitching, searing hits into the gap, decisive plays on the base paths, costly errors – and it was sixth-seeded Fremont Christian taking home the championship plaque after a 5-3 defeat of Berean Christian.
Fremont Christian (24-6) took a 2-0 lead after two-and-a-half innings off starter Cole Duey, then watched Berean Christian (18-9) strike back with three runs, all unearned, in the bottom of the third. The Warriors, however, responded with a three-run inning of their own in the top of the fourth. Jadon Campagna blasted a key double, and a missed cutoff throw allowed Emilio Martin, who had singled two batters earlier, to cross the plate. After Westin Coffey singled to send Campagna to third, and then stole second, Nick Leong laid down a beautiful bunt on a suicide squeeze. Campagna scored what proved to be the winning run on the play, and starting pitcher John Sanguinetti followed with a single to short for an insurance run.
From there the Warriors’ pitching shut the door. Tyler Woodman breezed through the fourth to conclude a roller-coasting outing, and Alabama A & M commit Bubba Gomez was lights out the rest of the way – although Berean Christian came up with one last gasp. Duey singled with two outs in the seventh, and Utah-bound Andrew Meyer reached on an error. Cleanup hitter Jack Seelye took Gomez to the brink, battling off several foul balls before popping up to second. Martin squeezed it in its glove, and Fremont Christian had its first-ever NCS Championship title.
“Today, we said let’s get it to the fifth so we get Bubba on the hill and he’ll get us home,” Fremont Christian coach Chris Gomez remarked. “I’m so proud of all six seniors and the whole entire team.”
“We lost the top six in our lineup, so for the younger guys to come up and do things, I’m just proud of to get this far,” Berean Christian coach Jeremy Brys said. “I knew it was going to be a battle. We made a few more mistakes than they did today. We didn’t get a timely hit.”
Fremont Christian’s Alex Wiley doubled to drive in the game’s first run, and in the top of the third the Warriors tacked on another when Gomez, who had doubled, stole third and made it home when the putout attempt sailed into left field.
In the second, Berean Christian led off with a walk just like in the first. And just like in the first, that runner was erased on a steal attempt. Sanguinetti walked two more batters sandwiched around an Ian Alvarado single to load the bases. Woodman took the mound and induced Aidan Shellooe into a fielder’s choice at home, then got Scott Rodriguez to fly out to center to end the threat.
In the bottom of the third, Duey reached on an error and Meyer walked. With two outs Zach Wilson drooped a single to left field; an error allowed Duey and Meyer to score, and then Alvarado gave the Eagles their one short-lived lead with a rousing triple to right-center.
“We know there’s going to be adversity when freshmen are playing varsity baseball,” Chris Gomez said. “The runs have already been scored, all you can do is fight, say a little prayer, and go back out there.”
Fremont Christian finished the game with seven hits, all by different players, while Berean Christian totaled five. Woodman got the win and Gomez the save; Duey, who went four full innings, took the loss while Meyer quieted the Warriors with three perfect innings and five strikeouts. Gomez and Meyer were both limited to three innings each entering the game, after throwing complete games in the semifinals.
Fremont Christian started its NCS title run with a 2-1 victory over #11 Stuart Hall; the Warriors toppled #3 Athenian 8-6 and slipped by #7 Branson 3-2 in the semifinal. Berean Christian had defeated #16 Head-Royce 2-1, #9 Cloverdale 3-1 and #4 The Bay School 5-2.
For coach Chris Gomez and his son Bubba, it has capped a terrific four-year run through Bubba’s high school career. Fremont Christian compiled 87 wins during the span, with back-to-back quarterfinal losses against Athenian in 2017 and 2018 after stunning the same team in the opening round, then losing in the quarterfinals, in 2016. Bubba finished his career with an ERA of 0.83, 39 wins, and over 570 strikeouts, plus a .523 batting average with 15 homers and just over 200 RBIs.
“We all rally behind each other,” Bubba Gomez stated. “It’s not just me for sure. We play with a chip on our shoulder and we fight.”
“The seniors are really special, and I’m sad that they’re going,” Martin commented. “But I still got three more years, so hopefully we can do something in those three years, too.”
Berean Christian appeared in the championship game after two consecutive seasons of bowing out in the semifinals.
“Coming in, nobody knew what to expect,” Duey said about the season. “Our team is filled with a lot of quiet guys. We don’t have the biggest, strongest, fastest guys, but we have the most heart out there. Every win we scrapped and fought hard.”