CONCORD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 4: De La Salle's Ethan Dungo (8) begins to celebrate his two-run walk-off against St. Francis High in the seventh inning of their California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Division I championship game at de La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

CONCORD — The last out against De La Salle in a playoff baseball game is never easy. No team has done it in seven years.

St. Francis tried Saturday.

And like all the others, the Lancers left the field in defeat. This one stung the visitors from Mountain View, who brought Cal-Hi Sports’ No. 1 state ranking to the lumpy and dusty field De La Salle calls home for the final game of the season.

With the inaugural California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Division I championship at stake, second-seeded St. Francis took a three-run lead into the home half of the seventh inning.

De La Salle scored four runs — the final two on Ethan Dungo’s two-strike chopper through the middle — to prevail 7-6 and ignite a wild celebration in the middle of the field.

“It’s unbelievable,” Dungo said. “It felt surreal. When I touched first base and I saw my teammate (Donovan Chriss) cross home plate, it was all that we worked for — summer, fall and during the season.”

De La Salle’s Ethan Dungo begins to celebrate his two-run walk-off against St. Francis on Saturday in the CIF NorCal Division I final. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

In a back-and-forth game that began with aces on the mound — De La Salle’s Cal Randall and St. Francis’ Blake Rogers — the bottom of the seventh was uncharacteristic of a St. Francis team that won 31 games and league and section championships this spring.

Two errors and a hit batter loaded the bases for De La Salle with nobody out. Chriss’ single cut the margin to 7-5. Elias Rubio’s groundout to shortstop made it 7-6 and left runners at second and third with one out.

Up stepped Dungo.

When the count reached two strikes, the senior remembered all the coaching from David Jeans through the years.

“I just had my two-strike approach that coach Jeans taught me since I was a sophomore,” Dungo said. “Just widen out, get the hands out there and let the defense make their plays.”

On De La Salle’s field, it’s not easy for the defense to make plays. Bad hops are commonplace — in the infield and the outfield — and the championship game was no exception.

“It goes both ways sometimes,” Jeans said. “But it is a home-field advantage. That’s part of trying to get the No. 1 seed.”

De La Salle was seeded No. 1 because of its 5-0 victory at St. Francis on March 12.

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Source:: The Mercury News

      

Walk-off championship! De La Salle’s rally stuns St. Francis as Spartans win NorCal D-I crown

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