The Credo Gryphon made history Sat., May 25 when they crushed the South Fork Cubs, 8-3, in an away match up in Humboldt for the NCS Division 6 Championship title.
The victory capped off a fantastic season for the school and the team, which is rather young as far as baseball programs go. The Gryphon’s official origin goes back merely five years and this is their first championship win. It’s a far cry from the seasons prior when the Gryphon barely managed to qualify, much less advance into the finals; last year, for example, they lost the first round game to San Domenico, 3-0, and closed out their playoff bid before it truly had a chance to take root.
This year was obviously different. They entered into the NCS Division 6 Playoff Championship with an 11-3 record, which landed them the second seed. They started the playoffs with a bye and advanced into the semifinals. There they crushed the third seed, Point Arena, with a devastating 7-0 score to move into the finals against South Fork.
The odds strongly favored the South Fork Cubs. They had a proven team, were the first seed, and had won 2018 NCS Championship with an easy 4-1 advantage over San Francisco Waldorf.
So, according to the Gryphon’s coach, John Aliotti, his team’s overwhelming victory came as a bit of a surprise.
“[Point Arena] has been there. They know what it’s like. But my boys, never having been there, played with courage and worked hard from beginning to end,” Aliotti said. “Some of my seniors played before the team was affiliated with a league. There were not very many players who were interested in playing for the team. To go from there to winning the divisional championship? They were on cloud nine.”
The game started off strong for the Gryphon but then swiftly devolved into a stalemate. They landed an initial run in the first inning and kept that advantage until the Cubs answered with one of their own in the third. After that it was a rapid fire series of three-ups three-downs until the fifth. There, at last, the Gryphon caught a break. They seized the lead with a pair of runs, but their momentum petered out and they were left with only the barest of advantages.
But, fortune broke the Gryphon’s way when the Cubs switched out their starting pitcher. The changeup granted Credo just the opportunity they’d been looking for.
The Gryphon kicked off the sixth inning by loading the bases. Then Silas Rowen-Herzog stepped up to the plate. The crack of the bat echoed across the stadium as Herzog smacked the ball into the outfield for a double, which brought two of his teammates home and helped secure the lead. The floodgates opened, then, and the Gryphon pressed their advantage, scoring four runs in the fifth inning and putting the championship firmly out of the Cub’s reach.
A desperate play by the Cubs in the bottom of the seventh inning yielded two runs, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“We chant CHS. Most people hear that and think, ‘Credo High School’. To us, though, that means: courage and hard work bring you success,” Aliotti said. “In a nail biting, tight game where we’ve got a one to one tie going into the fifth inning, the Credo boys never faltered. They kept working hard. I think that was the difference. At no point were the Credo boys rattled.”