Foothill’s NCS baseball win highlighted by catch

Baseball

Division I

‘One of the best plays we’ve ever seen’

The toughest position to play on the baseball field at Foothill High in Pleasanton isn’t shortstop or third, catcher or center field.

When the sun starts to set on a spring evening and the glare from the cars parked above the berm to the left of home plate sparkles – not to mention the tanbark on the berm – left field can be a defensive nightmare.

Payton McMillan lost his breath playing the position Friday.

But he made the catch.

McMillan delivered the play of the day – if not the season – while helping top-seeded Foothill breeze to a 9-0 victory over Heritage in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.

Coach Angelo Scavone, who graduated from the Pleasanton school in 1988, has had two left fielders who figured out how to play left field at Foothill. McMillan is one of them.

What makes it so tough?

“Well, you have the tanbark, so No. 1, you can’t see the ball off the bat,” Scavone said. “Then you have the windshields with the glare and the sun is in your eyes the entire game, especially when you play at 5 o’clock. He’s been unbelievable out there.”

Heritage had runners at first and second in the fifth when Jalen Owens lofted a ball to deep left field. McMillan, who was playing shallow, charged back and caught it before hitting the fence. He got up, fired the ball to the infield, and then went back down from having knocked the wind out himself.

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When the infield umpire ruled that a Heritage runner did not tag up at second before moving to third, the catch started an inning-ending double play that kept Foothill in front 6-0.

Foothill’s Payton McMillan makes the catch of the day in left field against Heritage on Friday in the NCS Division I quarterfinals. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

“My center fielder told me to come in on the ball a little bit to keep the sun out of my eyes,” McMillan said. “Then I saw the ball off the bat and said, ‘Oh, shoot.’ I started running back and lost it in the sun a little bit. I was just like, ‘OK, I am just going to go to a spot.’

“I saw it at the last minute and was able to be in the right spot to give myself an opportunity to make that catch. I have no idea how I was able to get that ball in. I knew there was a guy on second and I was trying to get it in to at least keep the guy from getting to third.”

PLEASANTON CALIFORNIA - MAY 20: Foothill's Nick Walsh (4) stands on second base against Heritage High School at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, Calif., on Friday, May 20, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Foothill’s Nick Walsh stands on second base after hitting a two-run double Friday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

Foothill scored four runs in the first to take command and added two in the fourth. Nick Walsh had three hits, including a two-run double in the first, and Tyler Gebb pitched 5 ⅔ innings for his 13th victory this season.

“We played really well,” Scavone said. “Pitched well, good defense and we hit a little bit. Tyler is such a strike-thrower and is hard to hit. We had really good plays at second base, third base and the left fielder made one of the best plays we’ve ever seen.”

Foothill (24-4) will play host to No. 4 seed California in the semifinals Tuesday.

Heritage, seeded ninth, finished 16-11.

  • PHOTOS: Scroll to the bottom for more Foothill-Heritage pictures
PLEASANTON CALIFORNIA - MAY 20: Foothill's Tyler Gebb (14) pitches in the first inning against Heritage High School during the North Coast Section Division I quarterfinals at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, Calif., on Friday, May 20, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Foothill’s Tyler Gebb pitches in the first inning against Heritage on Friday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

No. 4 California 2, No. 12 Granada 1

Raoul Fabian knocked in the game-ending run in the bottom of the seventh as California survived a tense quarterfinal against Granada.

Nic Bronzini struck out 12 in six innings for California, but the run he allowed in the sixth tied the score.

California loaded the bases in the seventh, then celebrated a berth in the semifinals when Fabian delivered.

The Grizzlies improved to 23-5. Granada finished 16-11.

No. 7 Liberty 1, No. 2 Clayton Valley Charter 0

Liberty made a first-inning run hold up as the Lions went on the road and stunned Clayton Valley Charter to advance to the Division I semifinals Tuesday at De La Salle. In two playoff games, Liberty has scored four runs but has allowed just two.

Division V

No. 1 Berean Christian 3, No. 9 The Bay School 0

Griffin DeRusso knocked in two runs in a three-run fifth and Tom Reed and Sebastian Gonzalez combined on the shutout as Berean Christian beat The Bay School in an NCS Division V quarterfinal.

Berean will play host to No. 4 University in the semifinals Tuesday. University beat No. 5 St. Vincent de Paul 7-3.

No. 2 Fremont Christian 10, No. 7 Stuart Hall 1

Joe Banda had two hits and knocked in four runs and Daniel Lopez had two hits and drove in three runs to lead Fremont Christian to a win at home over Stuart Hall in the NCS Division V quarterfinals.

Troy Frazier allowed a run and struck out nine in four innings as Fremont Christian advanced to play at home Tuesday against No. 3 Branson, a 10-0 winner over No. 11 Athenian.

Softball

Division I

No. 2 Heritage 5, No. 7 Clayton Valley Charter 3

Summer Lagomarsino hit a two-run single in the third and drove in another run in the fifth as Heritage advanced to the semifinals with a win at home over Clayton Valley Charter.