DANVILLE -- In a postseason full of upsets, San Ramon Valley High backed up its top seed in the North Coast Section Division I baseball playoffs with a 4-0 win over Berkeley on Wednesday to reach its first championship game since 2004.
Alex Barden needed just 61 pitches to get through six scoreless innings and Conor Neumann struck out the side in the seventh to finish off the Wolves' two-hit shutout of the No. 13 Yellowjackets (17-11).
San Ramon Valley (20-7) will face East Bay Athletic League rival De La Salle on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary's College.
Berkeley had pulled off two of the tournament's biggest upsets to reach the semifinals by beating No. 4 Cal and No. 5 Granada. That highlighted a postseason that saw the No. 1 seeds in Divisions II and III lose in the first round to No. 16 seeds.
The Wolves knew that the Yellowjackets, with Washington-bound ace right-hander Noah Bremer on the mound, would be tough.
"We knew Bremer's had an excellent season so far," Barden said. "We knew Berkeley had some upset potential, so we made sure to score the first runs."
That happened in the second inning when Matt Smithwick tripled and scored on Nate Kanat's single. San Ramon Valley added three more an inning later, despite not making much solid contact against Bremer.
The rally started with a bunt single by Nick Poirier. It was followed by a hit-and-run grounder through the hole for a hit by Matt Winaker, a bunt single by Greg Lowe and back-to-back infield singles by Grant Haramine and Smithwick. The final run came across on a wild pitch.
That was plenty of support for Barden, who never allowed a runner to reach as far as second base. Now the Wolves, battled-tested as champions of the tough EBAL, will try to take down De La Salle and win its first NCS title since that 2004 season.
"We shut the door today, confirmed that No. 1 seed," Barden said. "We're coming into the NCS championship knowing that we've got one more game to win."
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San Ramon Valley 4, Berkeley 0
Berkeley 000 000 0-- 0 2 0
San Ramon 013 000 x-- 4 9 0
Bremer and Bell. Barden, Neumann (7) and Kanat. W: Barden. L: Bremer. 3B: Smithwick (SRV). Records: San Ramon Valley 20-7, Berkeley 17-11.
Highlights: B -- Bremer CG, 4 runs, 9 hits, 4 strikeouts. SRV -- Barden 6 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks; Smithwick 2 for 3, RBI, run; Lowe 2 for 3, run; Kanat 2 for 3, RBI.