CONCORD — Foothill hadn’t beaten De La Salle in seven years, a skid of 13 games.
In the previous round of these league playoffs two days earlier, De La Salle overcame a four-run deficit in the seventh inning and a two-run hole in the eighth to beat San Ramon Valley and advance to the final.
So not even a three-run lead for Foothill on Friday in the East Bay Athletic League championship game felt safe as De La Salle came to bat in the home half of the seventh.
But Tyler Gebb would not be denied.
The 6-foot-3 junior completed a gem as Foothill celebrated a 4-1 victory that gave the Falcons their first outright EBAL title since 1988 and put Gebb in the school record book.
The victory was his 12th this season, breaking the school mark set by Brad Bergesen two decades ago. Bergesen went on to pitch four seasons in the big leagues.
Foothill’s Tyler Gebb pitches against De La Salle in the seventh inning on Friday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Gebb allowed an unearned run in the first as a bad-hop single to right was misplayed in the outfield for two additional bases. Two batters later, De La Salle scored on a force out.
De La Salle’s Tanner Griffith scores in the first inning of the East Bay Athletic League championship game against Foothill on Friday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
From there, Gebb retired the side in order in the second, third and fifth innings.
“He’s a strike-thrower, around the plate with three pitches,” Foothill coach Angelo Scavone said. “And we play good D. Our defense has been phenomenal all year.”
Foothill (22-4) scored three runs with Evan Bilter in the batter’s box in the fifth. A wild pitch broke a 1-1 tie and Bilter followed with a two-run single to center to make it 4-1.
Bilter is batting a team-high .451.
“I was just trying to do my job for the team,” he said. “I’m glad I did. That was huge.”
De La Salle (20-6) put two runners on in the sixth, but Gebb got a flyout and a groundout to end the threat. In the seventh, Gebb issued a walk with two out and then got a ground ball to first to end the game.
He finished with three walks and no strikeouts.
De La Salle had two hits.
“It felt really good,” Gebb said. “I was just trying to get my fastball located on the outside corner. I didn’t let (the first-inning run) affect me. Bad hop. There is nothing you can do about it. Keep competing.”
Foothill’s Brendan Comerford makes a play at shortstop in the sixth inning against De La Salle on Friday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
When it ended, Gebb and his teammates celebrated the championship and the end of the program’s 13-game losing streak to De La Salle.
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“It’s unreal,” Gebb said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming of before the season started, being on the mound in the last inning.”
Now both teams will head to the North Coast Section Division I playoffs, the first since 2019 because of the pandemic.
Foothill will probably be the top seed, but De La Salle has won the past four D-I titles (2016-2019).
“We’re not going to hang our heads on this game,” De La Salle coach David Jeans said. “There’s a bigger prize. We’re used to that. We’ll be ready for that. But they got us today.”
— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) May 14, 2022