Crusaders win record 15th NCS baseball championship

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Crusaders celebrate their NCS win on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — The most successful baseball program in the North Coast Section is showing no signs of slowing down.

On Saturday afternoon, the St. Bernard’s boys won a record 15th section championship in the sport with a 9-0 win over Little 4 rival Ferndale in the Division-6 final.

The championship keeps the Crusaders one ahead of De La Salle, which won its 14th overall and sixth straight section title on Friday night.

This was an unexpected outcome for such a young SB team after the Crusaders graduated 10 players from last year’s section winning roster.

But it’s a team that came together quicker than anticipated under the guidance of head coach Matt Tomlin and his staff, which arguably did one of their best jobs ever this spring.

“I’m just so excited for the kids,” Tomlin said. “None of us saw this coming with the amount of players we graduated last year.”

Senior Tyler Dimmick also has played a huge role in the team’s success all season, and that continued on Saturday.

Dimmick threw 6.1 scoreless innings for the win on the mound, allowing just four hits and one walk, while striking out six.

He also helped turn an inning-ending double play in the fifth, fielding a pop up near home plate and quickly throwing to second to complete the play and end a scoring threat.

“Dimmick has been special this year,” Tomlin said. “He’s just so consistent. He throws strikes over and over.”

Ferndale head coach Justin Andersen knows Dimmick well after the player’s father served as an assistant with the Cats for four years before Dimmick began high school.

“Tyler was Tyler,” said Andersen, who remembers him hanging out in the dugout as a kid. “He kept us from getting anything going. Hats off to them. They beat us in every aspect of the game as the score reflected.”

It was the fifth meeting between these teams this year and the fourth shutout for the Crusaders.

Luke Brunton, one of four freshmen to feature for St. Bernard’s on Saturday, got the scoring started on a two-strike groundout that scored sophomore Tyler Maples, who had led off the inning with a single.

There was, however, little between the two teams for the first few innings and Maples’ score was the only run separating them going into the bottom of the fourth.

But the Crusaders would begin to pull away thanks to some timely hitting and some Ferndale defensive miscues.

“They executed, we didn’t” Andersen said. “And we knew we had to keep the ball in front of us and we failed to do that.”

Check out Tyler Dimmick’s double play in the fifth and his two-RBI single in the sixth …

Mateo Gutierrez and Tyson Meyer led off the inning with back-to-back hits and they would score on an error and a Brunton squeeze bunt, respectively.

Brayden Luna would score a third run in the inning on another Cats error.

Dimmick had a base hit to lead off the fifth inning and would score his team’s fifth run moments later on a Gutierrez RBI single.

The Crusaders would add four more runs in the sixth to end the game as a contest, two of them on a Dimmick single.

Senior Brayden Luna also had two hits in the win, while freshman Michael Manzi rounded out an eight-hit team performance.

Trent Titus led Ferndale at the plate and finished 2-for-2, while Jarett Smith was 1-for-3 and Tanner Pidgeon was 1-for-3 with a double.

Titus also reached base on a walk, one of just five Dimmick has allowed all season.

A young Wildcats team that didn’t feature a single senior player should benefit from the experience of an impressive playoff run that saw them rack up victories over Tomales (11-0) and San Domenico (6-5).

“I’m proud of the run our kids made and all the support we got from the community,” Andersen said.

The Crusaders will now advance to next week’s NorCal playoffs, where they are the defending Division-3 champions.

The NorCal playoff brackets will be announced on Sunday.

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