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Granada leaves no doubt that it is an all-time great Bay Area team

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LIVERMORE – Corrigan Willis’ message before Saturday’s regional championship baseball game was simple but direct, nothing fancy but on point.

The Granada coach told his team, “Change nothing. The game’s the game. Trust each other. Lean on each other. And let’s go out and win a championship.”

Granada won the Northern California Division I championship on Saturday, holding off visiting St. Mary-Stockton 6-4 in a game that ended with Stanford-bound Parker Warner catching a wicked line drive in left field.

The victory was the perfect conclusion for one of the Bay Area’s all-time great high school baseball teams, an historic run for the Livermore school that included 16 consecutive wins to open the season and 16 in a row to close it.

The only team to beat Granada during its 32-1 spring was Pleasanton rival Amador Valley.

Granada's A.J. Martinez #24 hoists the NorCal Division I championship trophy after a 6-4 victory over St. Mary's-Stockton, Saturday, June 1, 2024. at Granada High School in Livermore, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Granada’s A.J. Martinez #24 hoists the NorCal Division I championship trophy after a 6-4 victory over St. Mary’s-Stockton, Saturday, June 1, 2024. at Granada High School in Livermore, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Aside from that, the Matadors filled their trophy case with league, section and regional championships, plus a triumph at a national tournament in Las Vegas.

“This group of guys is amazing,” said Warner, who drove in two runs during a five-run second inning. “It still hasn’t hit me that this is the last game of my high school career. But I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. This is a great team.”.

The season was already historic for Granada even before an overflow crowd packed the school’s home field on Saturday.

The Matadors captured their first North Coast Section championship last week when they ended De La Salle’s 33-game postseason winning streak in a final that took 14 innings, two days, two fields and two counties to complete.

They reached the regional final with another victory over De La Salle on Thursday.

Granada’s achievements this season seemed more cartoonish than reality, more fantasy than factual.

Ten shutouts.

Nineteen of 33 opponents scoring one run or fewer.

Two runs allowed in six previous playoff games.

There was this one, too: In 21 innings over two playoff games against De La Salle, the Matadors held the Concord powerhouse to zero runs – 7.9 below its season average.

“We’ve had teams equally as talented or close to it,” said Willis, who just completed his 16th season. “But it’s like something clicked early on. You could just feel it early on in the year with how we were winning games and the way this group clicked as a whole.

“It really manifested itself down in Vegas. We had a few tough games. We’ve had a few games we probably should have lost and they willed themselves to victory. Obviously we’re really talented, but it’s more the team as a whole — the leadership’s been great and the team as a whole has just made it to where we’re going to will ourselves to victory.”

Saturday, it looked as if Granada wouldn’t have to will itself at all after it took advantage of numerous miscues by St. Mary’s fielders to take a 5-0 lead.

But the Stockton school showed why it brought a 19-game winning streak over the Altamont Pass, slugging its way to three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to cut the deficit to one.

Granada had to will itself to the finish, a fitting conclusion to a season that everyone in black and gold uniforms will never forget.

“This team means the world to me, all my brothers growing up with them,” said senior second baseman A.J. Martinez, who was given the nickname Mr. Clutch for his big playoff hits. “Couldn’t ask for a better team to end my senior season. It’s amazing.”

Granada's bench cheers as the Matadors take a a 6-4 lead in the NorCal Division I championship game against St. Mary's-Stockton, at Granada High School in Livermore, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Granada’s bench cheers as the Matadors take a a 6-4 lead in the NorCal Division I championship game against St. Mary’s-Stockton, at Granada High School in Livermore, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Another senior, A.J. Hattaway, was on the mound for the final out. He finished a season in which he had a 0.00 ERA with 2 ⅔ more scoreless innings on Saturday.

“I just knew I could use the defense behind me,” Hattaway said. “There are some nerves, obviously. But nerves are a good thing. This is the best team to come through Granada. It’s a special team. I can honestly say it’s one of the all-time great teams in the Bay Area.”



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