The Alhambra Bulldogs have been flying under the radar this season. They have six losses on the year: a couple of in-league games to Campolindo and Dougherty Valley, and others against El Cerrito and Granada.
But coming into their Diablo Foothill matchup with Acalanes Thursday afternoon, the Dogs had a bone to pick. The Acalanes Dons are the defending champions in North Coast Division 3, having dispatched Tamalpais 4-0 at the Oakland Colesium last June. Alhambra is coming off a 2012 season that saw them finish 13-13 and lose in the second round of the NCS Playoffs. The Bulldogs haven't won a league title in several years, and have consistently finished in the middle or back of the pack.
When Zach Keever took the mound for Alhambra in the bottom of the first, you could see it in his delivery. The Bulldog infield had a confidence in their game that you could sense they were the better team on this day. After putting up a 3-spot in the first, the Alhambra defense went to work. The confidence continued to grow, with second baseman Nick Goulding flipping the ball from his glove to first for the put-out. It was almost as if he'd done that every day of his life. In the third, Angelo Martino layed out for a line drive towards third and made a strong throw to get the out there. Catcher Leo Costa kept runners honest by nullifying a steal at second from behind the plate.
With each defensive play, the Dons became more and more frustrated. The Dogs had sunk their teeth in. At the end of the tilt, it wasn't a flashy grand slam or crazy small ball that won this game. It was confidence and good old fashioned hitting. 10 hits, 7 runs, no errors: a recipe for success.
In the loss, the Acalanes Dons taste their first bit of defeat in league play in a month, and now fall a half game back of pesky Campolindo.
Are the Bulldogs the best team in the North Coast Section and well on their way to a section title?... No, probably not. But on this day they were the better team, and shouldn't be overlooked in the Diablo Foothill league going forward.