PLEASANT HILL — They hoisted RJ Meyn into the air Friday evening, the De La Salle pitcher getting the hero’s treatment after he led his teammates to another North Coast Section championship.
Meyn, a junior left-hander committed to Santa Clara University, pitched a complete game as top-seeded De La Salle won its sixth consecutive Division I title with a 7-3 victory over Clayton Valley Charter before an overflow crowd at Diablo Valley College.
“I just did it for all my seniors,” Meyn said. “They’ve been grinding for four years, day in and day out. To be honest, I really just wanted to do it for all of them. It’s a testament to how much work they’ve put in and how grateful I am for that.”
De La Salle took charge in the first inning, scoring four runs as Hank Tripaldi drove in one with a double inside the bag at third and Alec Blair followed with a two-run double inside the bag at first.
Third-seeded Clayton Valley cut the deficit in half with two runs in the top of the second. Jerry Coakley knocked in one with a bloop single to right and Hank Phifer made it 4-2 with a single to left.
But De La Salle (24-5) responded with two in the home half of the second and then rode Meyn’s pitching arm and spectacular outfield defense to win its 24th consecutive section playoff game dating to 2016.
St. Mary’s-bound right fielder Tanner Griffith, a human vacuum, lived up to his reputation and then some.
The senior made a sliding catch to rob Myles Walton of a hit and at least one RBI to end the second. He then opened the third with another highlight-reel play, running a marathon to chase down Ryder Helfrick’s fly ball in foul territory.
And he ended the game by charging in to catch the final out and ignite an infield dogpile.
“I told all my seniors the other day, we graduated two weeks ago, but our time at De La Salle is not over,” Griffith said. “We still have unfinished business. Today, we took care of that business.”
Blair, De La Salle’s center fielder, also made a great catch in the gap to take a hit away from Walton.
“Not a lot of guys get to that ball,” DLS coach David Jeans said.
Clayton Valley, which reached the title game by routing second-seeded San Ramon Valley 10-1 in the semifinals, tried to mount a two-out rally in the seventh.
Josiah Morris worked a walk and Walton followed with a single to left. Helfrick then singled to center to drive in Morris, bringing the Ugly Eagles to within four.
But Jeans trusted Meyn to close out the game and one batter later the left-hander did just that, getting the flyball to right field to end it.
“He’s been solid all year,” Jeans said. “He’s our No. 1. He’s got three pitches for strikes. It’s kind of a good matchup. Clayton Valley’s really good. They’re aggressive. He kept his pitch count down until that last inning.”
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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment