Yes, Virginia, you can win them all.
The Pacific Grove High baseball team became the stuff of urban legends, myth busters and history Saturday by becoming the first Central Coast Section school to ever finish a season unbeaten and untied.
The Breakers capped their dream season with a rousing 10-4 win over perennial power Menlo School of Atherton in the CCS Division III championship game at San Jose Municipal Stadium.
Pacific Grove finished 31-0 overall — the second-best, season-ending overall record in state history — and also stretched its current CCS record win streak to 38 straight dating back to last season.
Two of those wins came against Menlo in D-III title games — last year and Saturday.
How does a team sustain such long-term success? It takes more than hits, runs, pitching and fielding, said Breakers’ pitcher-outfielder Kevin Tesky.
“We are best friends on the field,” Tesky said. “We are a Band of Brothers on the field. We have the best chemistry I’ve ever seen. It’s unbelievable. We come together and it’s crazy. I can’t even explain it.”
He’s probably not the only one who can’t put into words what the Breakers did this season. It was fantasy baseball at its finest.
Pacific Grove never trailed for a full inning in its last 88 innings and trailed only once in its last 148 innings. It ended its perfect regular season with a perfect game (May 9 at Gonzales) and its starting and winning pitcher in Saturday’s contest, Conyal Cody, couldn’t take his spot in the rotation because of muscle soreness in his pitching arm until the last two weeks of the league schedule.
But they saved their best for the last to the surprise of just about everyone in the large and vocal crowd of Breaker backers when Kyle Czaplak, who has been a starter since his freshman year, batted .500 and earned a baseball scholarship to Santa Clara University last season and was the inspirational leader this season despite missing the entire year with surgery on both hips, came to the plate as a pinch-hitter for his first and last at-bat of his senior season in the bottom of the sixth with Pacific Grove leading, 10-2.
The Pacific Grove crowd stood and cheered, and his teammates responded with a standing ovation from the dugout as Czaplak made his way to the plate. He walked on five pitches, then was replaced with a pinch-runner.
“It’s all about love,” Pacific Grove coach Gil Ruiz said. “We talked about it last week and he took batting practice yesterday.”
Things didn’t start off too rosy for the Breakers, though.
Menlo, the No. 5 seed with a 22-7 record and playing in its fourth straight CCS championship game, scored twice in the top of the first. It was enough to bring Ruiz out to the pitcher’s mound for a little summit meeting in the midst of it all.
“It might have been the only time this year when we felt like we didn’t want to feel,” Ruiz said.
With two runs in, two on and just one out, Cody buckled down to get the next two hitters.
“We knew Menlo was going to be a good team,” said Breaker catcher Dan Burschinger. “We just had to play through that first inning. We trusted out bats. We told him if we get out of this inning we’ll come out swinging and get them back.”
Did they ever.
The first four batters reached base, and by the time the bottom of inning was over the Breakers had scored six runs after sending 11 hitters to the plate. They strung together four hits — highlighted by a two-run triple by their ninth-place hitter, Chris Fife; three walks, two stolen bases and a squeeze bunt by Kevin Russo to grab the lead and momentum for good.
The Breakers added another run in the third and three more in the sixth.
Menlo didn’t score again until the seventh.
A ground ball to first base with two out in the top of the seventh was the final chapter, and sent the jubilant Breakers racing in from all points on the field and from the dugout, tossing hats and gloves in the air, and diving into a dogpile between first base and the pitcher’s mound.
“We had some people say we played a soft schedule,” Ruiz said. “But everybody gave us their best shot, especially when our win streak got to a certain number.”
And in defeating Menlo the Breakers beat a team that had won games against Mitty and Palma this season.
Seven of the nine Breaker starters in Saturday’s game were seniors and there were four more on the bench. Most had been playing together on the same team from freshman to varsity level all four years of their high school career.
“I’m going to miss every single one of them,” Burschinger said. “It’ll be hard playing on a different team next year.”