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BASEBALL: Carlmont Shocks No. 1 Seed St. Francis

No. 16 seed Scots pull off huge upset with 4-3 victory in Central Coast Section Division I opener.

Talk about a Sweet 16.

Sixteen years after its most recent postseason victory, the Carlmont High baseball team turned the Central Coast Section playoffs upside down by shocking No. 1 seed St. Francis 4-3 in a Division I opener in Mountain View on Wednesday afternoon.

The Scots’ seed? No. 16, of course.

After enduring three consecutive first-round ousters at the hands of powerhouse programs, Carlmont broke through in a huge way against mighty St. Francis (25-6). The visiting Scots (19-8) became the first No. 16 seed to topple the top seed in the Division I playoffs in 12 years.

“(It’s) a hallmark moment for our program, a hallmark moment for our kids and a hallmark moment for the (Peninsula Athletic League),” sixth-year Carlmont coach Rich Vallero said. “They’re one of the top teams in the United States, in California. No one gave us a chance to get it done.”

The stunning upset nearly didn’t happen.

St. Francis, the West Catholic Athletic League champion, and reliever Kevin Zhang were one out away from locking up a 3-2 victory. With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, Carlmont’s Justin Fink found just the right spot with a ball that went for a game-tying infield single and then an error that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The tough play, if executed perfectly, would have been the final out.

St. Francis second baseman Trevor Bettencourt fielded the ball and threw toward first, but the throw handcuffed first baseman Richard Prigatano, who had to scamper back to the bag after first making a play on the grounder. The ball got away, allowing both Willie Baroncini and Kyle Barret to score. With two outs, Barret had been running on contact from second base.

In the bottom of the seventh, Carlmont starter Daniel Madigan worked through an error to start the inning and then a two-out walk to close out an impressive complete-game performance. With the tying run at second and winning run at first, the left-hander induced a grounder from Jonathan Nelson that Barret, the Scots’ freshman shortstop, took to second for a game-ending force play.

Carlmont advances to meet No. 8 seed Salinas (18-9-1) in a quarterfinal on Saturday. The time and place have yet to be announced.

Madigan (8-3) allowed seven hits and three runs, all earned, in hurling his sixth complete game. The senior—“that guy’s a warrior,” Vallero said—struck out six and walked five in his 116-pitch effort.

Colton Hicks, Ryan Anthony and Madigan had two hits apiece to lead the Scots’ 10-hit attack. Baroncini and Hicks both had infield singles in the seventh before Fink delivered one of his own.

St. Francis starting pitcher Alex Blandino hit a two-run home run in the third to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. Carlmont pulled even in the fourth when Anthony scored on Blandino’s two-out balk. And St. Francis went ahead 3-2 in the sixth when a Bettencourt single drove in George Saba, who drew a leadoff walk.

St. Francis, a team with four Pac-10 recruits and a few other college-bound players, was considered perhaps the co-favorite in the Division I bracket, along with defending champion Mitty.

Carlmont came into Wednesday very familiar with just how daunting a task it faced against the WCAL heavyweight. The Scots had come extremely close to ending their CCS drought in recent years—all against top programs—but “the pain,” as Vallero called it, continued.

In 2008, Carlmont had a 3-0 lead and was six outs away from stunning No. 4 seed Mitty on the Monarchs’ diamond, only to fall 5-3 to the eventual runner-up. The next year, the Scots suffered a 2-1 defeat in 10 innings to Wilcox. And last year, Carlmont again drew Mitty and lost 9-3 to the eventual champion.

Those defeats made Wednesday’s celebration all the sweeter.

“Three first-round exits against giants … who would’ve thought that with a No. 16 seed, that’s the year we’d knock the door down?” Vallero said. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime for our kids, and they took advantage of it.”

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In another surprising first-round game, Homestead beat Serra 7-2. Click to see Patch's coverage.

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Carlmont 4, St. Francis 3

C – 100 100 2 – 4 10 1

SF – 002 001 0 – 3 7 1

WP: Madigan. LP: Zhang.

HR: Blandino (SF). 2B: Madigan (C); Blandino (SF). 2 hits: Madigan, Hicks, Anthony (C); Blandino, Bettencourt (SF). 2 RBI: Blandino (SF).

Records: Carlmont 19-8. St. Francis 25-6.

Does it matter May 19, 2011 at 08:06 PM
WOW!!!!! Sounds like some parents who's kid didn't make the team or didn't play much. Remember, It's not rec ball anymore and maybe your Johnny played all the time and now your bitter. I don't have a child who playes for Rich. Why would you bash his personal life when YOU don't even know????, He has a family just like us all. You are assuming. This is crap! Rich has done well as a coach! This is about the Varsity team going out and beating a very good baseball team, and they should enjoy the momement.Maybe you are the parents of kids that played on the other team. If so, That makes you even more a joke of a parent for these comments. How come you come out now and say this?????? This game is for the kids,Let them enjoy it! It's not for some freaking idiots to run there mouths about a someone's personal life.This is complete B.S.! Don't be a hater. Rich has alot of passion for the game and these kids. WAY TO GO CARLMONT!! YOU GUYS DID WHAT EVERYONE THOUGHT YOU COULDN'T!! YOU GUYS NEW YOU COULD BECAUSE YOU HAVE HEART!!!! It's about the kids, so keep your comments to yourself. Great job Carlmont and staff!!!!!
Jamie White May 19, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Hi everyone, I am the regional editor for all of the Peninsula Patch sites. Some earlier comments on this story violated our terms of use, so they were deleted. Please remember this is a public forum and you need to be respectful of others' when posting comments, especially personal accusations that have not been proven. Our local editors of the Patch sites in San Mateo County welcome your newstips and opinions that may not be fit for a public forum. Please e-mail them directly to our editors... when you click on the editor's name at the top of a Patch site, his or her contact info. should appear. Thank you.
George Metropulos May 19, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Thank you, Jamie! I was appalled by those posts.
Roy May 20, 2011 at 02:49 AM
well now I'm curious
kathy madigan May 20, 2011 at 10:06 PM
These guys did the unthinkable! Nobody even gave them a chance! They were underestimated....Kudos to the Scots and their coaching staff. GO SCOTS!

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