By Harold Abend

It wasn’t quite a traditional sweep, since each team was in a different playoff division, but
for the second-straight year both the Cardinal Newman baseball and softball teams have
captured CIF North Coast Section championships.

Both teams were moved up a division with the baseball team placed in Division II after
winning in Division III last season, and the softball was bumped up to Division III from
Division IV, but in the end playing in higher divisions didn’t matter.

For the baseball team it wasn’t a traditional three-peat either as the 2022 title was in D3
just like last year, but it was still three-straight NCS titles for the Cardinals.

Janicelli and Bradley combine to shut down Redwood.

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – The classic pitcher’s duel was on fine display at Sonoma State
University on Saturday afternoon in the CIF North Coast Section Division II championship
match-up between top seed and Cal-Hi Sports No. 15 ranked Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa
and Redwood-Larkspur.

Cardinal Newman UC Santa Barbara-committed junior right-hander Josh Janicelli and
Redwood ace and UCLA-bound senior Rex Stolle battled it out for seven innings. However,
when it came time to call on the bullpen, it was the Cardinals senior Tanner Bradley that was
much sharper than the Giants Matthew Knauer.

Bradley made fast work of Redwood in the top of the eighth by striking out the Nos. 7, 8
and 9 batters in order and that allowed Diego Boardman to drive in the winning run on a
walk-off single in an eight-inning 1-0 victory.

Janicelli didn’t get the win as it went to Bradley, but he only gave up three hits, with only
one leaving the infield, and none after the fourth inning. The tall right-hander walked none,
had 13 strikeouts, and although he didn’t improve his 11-1 record he did lower his ERA to
0.78 ERA with 114 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 72 innings pitched. His command against
Redwood was excellent and he didn’t miss his spots very often.

Solle only gave up four hits and struck out four. He did walk five and hit a batter but none
cost him.
“Both pitchers were outstanding but Josh has been doing that for us all year,” remarked
Cardinal Newman head coach Derek DeBenedetti. “We’re very fortunate to have a strong
pitching staff and he anchors it.

“The funny thing is he got a little stiff in the back there in the fifth and we almost took him
out,” DeBenedetti continued. “He kept wanting to come back out and finish the job. Gritty
performance by him, and Tanner has been ultra reliable in those kind of situations. He’s
done it the last four games going after guys. He’s been impressive.”

It might have been a gritty performance by Janicelli even though he didn’t get the win, but
he humbly wanted to talk about the Newman defense that only committed one error, and
that came in the top of the seventh but was followed by Josh getting strikeout Nos. 12 and
13 to retire the side.

“Getting the win was the least of my worries,” Janicelli remarked. “I felt great out there but
when you have a defense behind you like ours it makes me feel comfortable to let them put
the ball in play.”

Tanner Bradley (9) earned the win in relief of Josh Jannicelli.

The ultra reliable Bradley was lights out and he set the stage for the game ending rally..

Cardinal Newman UC Davis-committed junior left fielder Jack Pezzolo, who like Janicelli is an
ace of the pitching staff, and in fact pitched a perfect game two weeks ago in an opening
round win over Vallejo, walked to open the bottom of the eighth and wasted little time
stealing second base.

“Pezzolo. He can do everything,” DeBenedetti said. “Pitches, plays defense and he has
discipline and he just execute everything so well in every facet of the game.”

Next up after Pezzolo was senior Isaac Phelps, who came on in the seventh inning in place
of senior Sam Valenti, who left after singling to open the bottom of the sixth. Phelps drew a
walk putting runners at first and second. That brought up Moreda and he laid down a
perfect bunt advancing runners to second and third.

The stage was set for Boardman. He hit a chopper to short sending Pezzolo racing for the
plate where he beat the throw home sending the Newman players into a dog pile
celebration.

The dominance of Janicelli was obvious from the outset. He did give up the only base hit to
leave the infield in the first inning, but that came after he struck out the first two batters,
and he followed it by striking out the fourth batter to retire the side. In the second inning he
struck out the side in order. After a fly to right for the first out of the third inning, Josh
fanned the next batter and got a grounder to short for the third out, but at that point he
had struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced.

Janicelli had his only jam of the game in the top of the fourth. Redwood senior Gavin Soper
led off with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt. Junior slugger Sam Gersch
followed with an infield single and with Soper running at the crack of the bat he tried to
score but a perfect throw by senior second-baseman Carson Meyer to senior catcher Konnor
Rodnick who applied the tag without obstructing the plate, although Redwood head coach
Mike Firenzi argued unsuccessfully that he did.

Cardinal Newman threatened in the bottom of the sixth after Valenti singled his pinch
runner junior Jack Jacobs stole second base. Solle got a strikeout but then after a passed
ball advanced Jacobs to third he hit Boardman. He then tried to steal second but was thrown
out with Jacobs unable to score. Solle then got a grounder to first stranding Jacobs at third.

Meyer walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh and was sacrificed to second by senior
Aidan Wedge, but Solle struck out the next two batters to end the threat. At that points
Cardinal Newman had stranded eight runners.
That all changed in the bottom of the eighth.

Many thought Cardinal Newman (25-5) would be moved up to Division I for the state CIF
Northern Regional playoffs just like last season when they were the No. 4 seed and made it
to the semifinals before bowing out in a 2-1 loss to top-seeded Valley Christian-San Jose
When the seeds were announced on Sunday afternoon Cardinal Newman was placed in
Division II and given the No. 1 seed.

“I had felt we might be a low seed in D1 or the top seed in D2,” said DeBenedetti after the
seeds were announced after saying he would like a shot at D1 immediately after the game.
“We’re happy with where we are at.”

The Cardinals open on Tuesday at home against eighth-seeded Chico.
Despite the heartbreaking loss Redwood (26-4) drew the No. 3 seed in Division II and opens
at home on Tuesday versus Carmel.

 

Cardinal Newman’s Howard tosses one-hitter in NCS D3 title-game
victory

NOVATO, Calif. – What was expected to be a pitcher’s duel between sophomore Thomara
Drummer of top-seeded San Rafael and junior Callie Howard of No. 3 seed Cardinal Newman
was just that through five innings.

However, a combination of poor defense by San Rafael combined with some timely hitting
by Newman opened the floodgates for a six-run sixth inning for the Cardinals who went on
to post a 7-0 victory in the CIF North Coast Section Division III title game.

Christell McCormick rockets one into centerfield for a 3 RBI double.

Leadoff hitter Izzie Kunimune hit a routine pop fly to centerfield to lead off the sixth but it
popped out of the glove of the centerfielder and the Cardinals sophomore was aboard.
Clearly rattled based on her body language after the fielding gaffe, Drummer proceeded to
give up a single to junior Andrea Mansbery putting runners on first and second. Senior Ava
Walters attempted a sacrifice bunt but there was no play at first and the bases were loaded.
Up stepped Howard. She hit a popup to shallow left field that somehow fell in the middle of
three San Rafael fielders and Callie drove in the only runs she would end up needing.
Sophomore Giana Tamayo then hit a laser shot but it was right at the shortstop for the first
out. With the bases still loaded senior catcher Christell McCormick crushed a double that
cleared the bases and it was 4-0 Cardinals.

Cardinal Newman scored two more runs after sophomore Makenna Homan singled,
sophomore Jordyn Johnsen reached on a fielder’s choice, sophomore Nicole DiMarco drove
in McCormick with a sacrifice fly and Kunimune came up for the second time in the inning
and blasted a double that plated Homan.

The Cardinals final run came in the top of the seventh after Walters singled to open the
inning, an error moved her to second, and a single by McCormick moved her to third where
she was driven in by a single by Homan.

Meanwhile Howard retired the final nine batters, although she did give up a walk to open
the bottom of the seventh but McCormick gunned down the runner trying to steal second.

After all was said and done Howard totally outdueled Drummer after she pitched a one-
hitter with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

“Number ten (Howard) for us has been pretty special in the circle all year,” said Cardinal
Newman head coach Bill Vreeland. “We knew our opponent had one of the best pitchers in
the North Bay so the challenge was to go pitch for pitch, out for out, inning by inning, and
to me she shined. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

“We thought that whenever you have as great a pitcher as San Rafael has the defense
might not be tested,” Vreeland continued. “But you still have to score and put the ball in
play to win, and early on she was effective, so we had to make adjustments as the game
went on as hitters to put the ball in play, and Callie kept us in it until we finally had the big
inning.”

Drummer only gave up one hit in the first two innings and got strikeouts on all six of the
outs, and she was sailing along with two hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts through five
innings. After the disastrous sixth inning and all told Drummer ended up giving up 11 hits
but she had 13 strikeouts.

“Yes I did,” said Howard about having a statement in her battle with Drummer
“We were a little nervous going in but we held our confidence and did what we’ve been
doing all season,” Howard continued. “Yes, we did have the defense and they didn’t and I
think that really helped us and started the rally.”

Cardinal Newman (24-5) drew the No. 2 seed in the state CIF Northern Regional Division III
playoffs and opens at home on Tuesday evening against Capuchino-San Bruno.

“I’m really excited about next week,” Howard said. “It’s going to be a lot different moving
into state but we’re on a high right now.”

San Rafael (23-4) drew the No. 6 seed and hits the road on Tuesday to face third-seeded
Dixon.