The Tam High baseball team fell short on Saturday in the biggest game of the season.
But a day after the Hawks’ 4-0 loss to Acalanes High in the North Coast Section Division III championship Saturday at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, coach Mike Terry said the tough loss couldn’t take away the fact that Tam had advanced deeper into the playoffs than at any time in the past 83 years.
“This one hurt – it hurt really bad,” Terry said. “But for these kids, this is a memory they’ll have for the rest of their lives. And for this program, it put us back on the map in a big way and we can build off that now.”
The Hawks finished the season at 21-8 and reached the NCS final for the first time since 1929, according to school athletic officials. They earned a chance to play in the home of the Oakland A’s, see their names on the Jumbotron and battle one of the best baseball programs in the Bay Area.
Tam got off to a rough start, giving up four runs in the first two innings to the top-seeded Dons while Acalanes starter Andrew Merken took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Terry said the Hawks were likely victims of some early nerves and fatigue, but they loosened up after the third inning.
“We were really excited – it was such a great opportunity for us – but nerves may have played a little part early,” Terry said.
Star pitcher Kit Larson threw for 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits and striking out five hitters.
The Hawks made a late push against Acalanes reliever Johnny York, earning two walks before junior Chris Hayman delivered Tam’s first hit of the game. A ground ball back to the mound ended the game and the Hawks’ season.
Terry said that as proud as he is for this season’s amazing run and for his 10 graduating seniors, he’s equally excited to build on the foundation they laid down.
“We’re losing a lot of great leadership and pitching, but we’re returning some key components,” he said.
That includes Hayman, Jonny Wachtel, Geoff Mohn and Kevin Jordan, all of whom were major contributors to this season’s playoff run. Lefty Kenny Rosenberg is the Hawks’ top returning pitcher. Terry said MCAL and NCS championships are the goals, just as they were this season.
“We’ve got to identify some new pitchers and fill in some areas with younger players, but we’ll get right back at again next year,” he said.
Four seasons into his tenure at Tam, Terry said he’s thrilled at the progress but expected to make great strides, particularly given the feeder system provided by the Mill Valley Little League. He said he spoke to legendary Redwood High baseball coach Al Endriss, his former coach and mentor, when he took the job at Tam, and they agreed that it made no sense why Tam’s program a stalwart local little league.
“This program was on life support when I took over,” he said. “There were quality baseball players at Tam who weren’t participating in the program. We were able to get some discipline and structure and we’re heading in the right direction.”
“But I’m just so proud of these kids,” he said. “They put this program on the map.”
The Tam High baseball team will be honored by the Mill Valley City Council at its June 18 meeting at City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Ave., at 7:30 p.m.