Tomales High School can add another banner to its pedigree, this time the honor being a first in the school's history.
The Braves have a successful athletic program, but their 5-3 victory over Point Arena was their first North Coast Section baseball title. For head coach Bill Tucker, the wait was worth the result as he won his first NCS championship after 18 years of coaching.
"To finally win a championship feels awesome," Tucker said. "We have finished second twice and my sons were on both of those teams, so getting over the hump feels great."
Tomales starting pitcher Morgan Giammona has been solid on the hill all season long, and tossed a complete game while giving up only three hits and no earned runs to get the win. The win was the seventh of the season for the senior.
"After that last out, we were all going crazy. We set a goal to win NCS this season and finally winning it meant everything," Giammona said.
With a school enrollment of only about 200 students, Tomales has been dominant in small-school sports. The school is known for winning football titles, and adding a baseball title only adds to its impressive pennant collection.
"With only 11 players on the roster, I am always trying to field the best team possible to help us win games," Tucker said. Junior varsity players were called up to varsity and started in the playoffs.
Tucker has led the baseball program since 1995 and seen it grow immensely.
"Competition has increased in the past with St. Vincent and Sonoma Academy on our schedule. Beating St. Vincent earlier in the season was huge for us," Tucker said.
Throughout the season, the Braves have produced solid pitching and defense along with timely hitting. Tucker compares his team's style of play to the San Francisco Giants, which is a comparison any team would embrace.
While home-field advantage may not always be a big factor, Tomales knew its field perfectly and took every advantage possible. Each team committed five errors trying to field balls through the long grass in the infield, but the Braves knew to hustle down the line, beating out multiple infield singles.
Coming into the game, Point Arena had superior stats to Tomales across the board. Point Arena scored more runs per game, had more hits per game and committed less errors per game. They also came in with a 15-1 record compared to an 11-7 Tomales record, but when the game mattered most, Tomales was the better team.
The Braves knocked in three runs in the first inning off Tim Sanders to control the game early. After Point Arena scored a run in the second, Tomales answered back by scoring two more runs in the fourth.
Point Arena attempted a late rally by scoring two runs in the sixth inning, but the Braves made sure those were its last runs of the game, and the celebration was on when the last out was made.
Players celebrated on the pitcher's mound, and soon congratulated coach Tucker with a classic pouring of ice water celebration.
The Tomales players respect Tucker immensely and wanted nothing more than a championship for him. They also had a dear teammate's family in their hearts as a brother of a Braves player recently died.